Hug Your Kids

hugyourkidsIt’s hard to know where to begin right now. I have wept a lot, and I expect I’ll continue to do that every time I think about all the parents who don’t get to hug their children anymore, and all the children who had their lives ended tragically, senselessly, violently, without warning yesterday. It’s so devastating no words can do it any justice. This is not a political issue. This is an issue that affects all of our children equally. We are raising them in a violent culture and a violent world. We’re so desensitized to it, we don’t even realize anymore. We are at war within ourselves, and it’s reflected back at us all day long, on television, in film, in the violent video games parents brush off as “just for fun”. We are inundated with messages that we are not enough, that we are not okay, that almost nothing about us is right. That if we would only work harder, and make more money, and have more things, and weigh less, or buff up more, if we’d only make ourselves “right”, then we’d be good enough, then we’d be happy. We feed our children a diet of this information as well. During their most formative years, when what they need is love, acceptance, reassurance and open arms. We have a culture that is increasingly disconnecting, where people hide behind technology to express things that are challenging to say. Where families go to dinner and spend more time on their gadgets than with each other. Where moments are lost, and chances to see that something is not right are missed. We keep ourselves busy, distracted, scheduled to the point of exhaustion, because that’s what we need to do to run from our own truth. We live in a world where we bomb each other and build walls and fight over differing beliefs, and oil and power. As if we are not all in the same family, on the same planet. This is no way to live, and we know it but it seems the system is in place, right? So what if we feel alone, separated from each other, alienated and lonely? Seems to work for everyone else, it must be me. Except it’s not just you, it’s all of us, we all feel it, we all know it’s not supposed to be like this. There’s no humanity in a gadget. There’s no warmth living life in a box, driving to work in a box, sitting in a box, staring at a box, and going home to stare at another one. We foster this idea of survival of the fittest, of never exposing our vulnerability for fear someone will go for our jugulars. Because, you know, it’s a dog eat dog world. Even though dogs don’t eat each other, and Darwin, when he spoke of human evolution in, “The Descent of Man”, spoke of “survival of the fittest” only twice, and of LOVE ninety-five times. We’ve gotten the story wrong, but we insist on sticking with it.

Mental dis-ease is a natural result of a culture that insists on repression. That encourages men to be tough and strong, and women to be objects. What to do with all the other feelings? Everyone wants to call Adam Lanza “evil”, and hate him for what he did. But his older brother says he’s got a history of mental disease, and I’m wondering how the signs that he was in real trouble were somehow overlooked. This doesn’t just happen one day. A boy doesn’t just wake up and shoot his mother in the face, and then create a heartbreak that affects the entire country. He wasn’t evil, he was sick and he needed help. Our children are suffering, some more than others. There are too many people who need help, who need counseling, who need medication, who are simply falling through the cracks. Brain chemistry is a real thing and we just cannot ignore that mental illness is playing a starring role in all these mass shootings. It’s not just here. Twenty-two children were stabbed in China yesterday as well. The difference there is that they are all alive, because the weapon used was a knife, not a gun. Are we in denial? Are we asleep? Are these things so hard to look at the mind buckles with the weight of it? Of course. Do we need to take the lid of shame off mental disease and bring it out into the open so people feel safe asking for help when they need it? So family members don’t tiptoe around hoping it’s “just talk”, fearful to reach out because they don’t want their child to be “labeled”, stigmatized? Yes. We need to love each other. We need to embrace and accept and care for one another again. We really need to start telling different stories.

The other part of the equation is that we are just making it too easy for extremely troubled people to have access to guns. How many innocent people need to die before we stand up and say, “Enough!”? This is our purpose, we are supposed to take care of one another, to extend a hand, a shoulder, anything we’ve got. We’re wired for this. We are literally hard-wired for compassion. Why am I crying all day? Because I have children. And I can imagine not knowing where to go, what to do, how to breathe. I can imagine wanting everyone I love to help me, and also not wanting a single person to come near me. I can imagine having nothing, not one thing except the the word, “NO”. Please, no. We have something called mirror neurons, Google it if you’re not familiar. This is why the whole country came to a standstill yesterday. It’s natural to us. We do care. We can change this. It’s a lot easier then the effort we’re making now to deny who and what we are. Part of love is truth. Yesterday someone suggested I might be perpetuating negativity with my feelings around this. I’m very hopeful and optimistic we can turn things around, I write about that every day. It’s an individual thing. People want to blame “society”. Society is made up of individuals. Each person has to do the work to heal, to come back to love, to pay attention to what they’re feeding themselves. Love does not pretend everything is okay. Love does not ignore the shadow. Sometimes love means holding up a mirror and looking at those things that are painful to acknowledge. Taking steps that are so uncomfortable but so necessary for healing. Not doing that leads to more violence outside. Not moving toward your own healing, toward your own peace, is the same as committing yourself to more outward heartache. Because what we deny doesn’t disappear, it comes back five times harder. Praying with everything I’ve got for those little souls, for their families, and for all of us. We can do better than this, we truly can. Sending you so much love. And an extra hug to anyone, anywhere who has ever lost a child for any reason.

4 thoughts on “Hug Your Kids”

  1. Ally, thank you for this (as usual) insightful and love-filled post. I think we were sisters in another life or demension or something. I too am hugging my kids today (we even did the family bed thing last night, even though we are trying to wrap that up). Life is too short and precious for this to just be another sad story for our history. I hope others see it the same way we do and decide to have a national dialogue about these important issues (mental illness and violence). Peace and Love from snowy WA. Kathy

    1. Kathy, thanks so much for your message. I hope there are enough mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers out there who will rise up now and demand change, who will create a loving environment at home, and who will teach empathy. I think it’s totally doable, we just need to be willing to do the work individually, and to come together as a beautiful whole. Lots of love,

  2. Hi Ally. I love your posts and subscribe to your blog, your words are so loving and inspirational. My opinion on this is:
    We deal with violence every day here in my home town: Johannesburg South Africa. Kids stabbing each other at schools, taking guns to school and so on. Granted, not every single school is like this but the majority are. Most of those kids that are agressive don’t even have a tv or radio to have been taught violence so I dont believe kids pick this up from merely watching movies. I mean we as kids used to walk down to the local cafe during school holidays and hire Chuck Norris and Rambo movies and watched them over and over and over again, yet I have never lifted a hand to a single person in my life.
    Kids learn from people who are supposed to be their role models. First and foremost they learn from their parents and if the parents are beating up on each other you can bet your bottom dollar that kid is going to be violent towards others.
    If the parents are taking drugs, you can bet your bottom dollar the kid will take drugs.
    The cure here starts with the parents, adults need to be educated on how to raise children.
    It sounds insane but trust me there are people wondering around out there who can’t even take care of themselves yet they are procreating like rabbits.
    If it was up to me I would say people need to undergo tests and pscho-analyses and attain a license before they’re allowed to have a child and then their financial income should be monitered in order to make sure they can afford it before having another child…but that’s just me.
    People are starting to think that having babies is a mundane human necessity instead of a huge moral responsibilty.
    We had an incident here in johannesburg a few years ago where a child who was severely depressed took a Samurai Sword to school and stabbed another 2 puplis to death. In the mom’s statement she said: “He was such a quiet boy and minded his own business. He just stayed in his room and played computer games all day, I never imagined he could do this.” Um……I’m sorry but if your child is locking himself in his room all day, doesnt socialise or have any friends…..there’s something seriously wrong! Did she even care about her sons well being or did she nurture him or was she too wrapped up in herself to care.
    Adults need an education on how to be parents, seriously. There are people out there who literally scare me when I think that they are actually raising another human being.
    Anyway, in my opinion, its not the people inside the tv set that teach violence and aggression, it’s the ‘real life’ ones who interact with the child that do that.

    1. I totally agree, it begins at home. Raising compassionate, loving people is a full-time labor of love, and there really isn’t any room for slacking. If a person isn’t ready to make sacrifices, they aren’t ready to parent. I also think there are people with true mental illnesses who need help. In those cases, the most loving, on-top-of-it parents in the world struggle in our system. There’s very little support unless you have a ton of money and advocate for your child without cessation. I know people who have gone through it, and there’s shame and anguish and a true lack of support. Thank you for your thoughts on this, and here’s to hoping people realize how much love they have inside, and how much they could be spreading :). Lots of love from Santa Monica, Ally

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