a while back, i began pondering how i could write a song dedicated to "the children". if you're reading this and you didn't know, this is a term of affection coined by some members of the gay community used to describe themselves. it was upon hearing this term for the first time from a close friend, that the idea of writing a song as a tribute was born. children. the word evokes innocence,vulnerability,light,purity. i began imagining what the childhoods of some of my gay friends looked like. i wondered if they'd had loving parents, an accepting family, close friends. i wondered if they'd felt it was safe to be themselves in any space. if they'd been made to feel like they were good. i imagined what it would be like to be the parent of a LGBT child; how scrunched up my heart would be knowing how often they might be misunderstood and ostracized, my sweet child, deserving of love like everyone else with a pulse and a heartbeat. how panicked i would feel leaving them at school each day with no one to defend their little spirit from those who would attack out of fear. and how easily i would want to strike back at anyone who laid a finger on this innocent little being, a being who didn't even ask to BE HERE.
we fear what is "different" from us.
we fear what we don't understand.
perhaps people of color know this better than most, as race is undeniable...and those of us of color who venture into parenthood know there to be an innate question mark about our children's safety flashing in our psyches,passed down from the time the world decided color meant "lesser than" among other derogatory expletives. a parent to a child with a mental illness or a physical disability-all races included - will spend almost every waking and sleeping moment in a kind of worry-state, wondering if and when other children and -even worse-adults,will abuse them both verbally and physically. i cannot imagine the stress endured by the parents of a child born into societies that believe children with physical challenges or "defects" should be hidden away from the general public. some of these societies go as far as to murder these children. i wish this was an exaggeration, but shockingly, it is fact.
i was once told by a sufi that there are three ways by which you can judge what is truly in an adult's heart: how they treat animals, how they treat the elderly and how they treat children. i remember thinking how impractical this criteria was because- in my idealistic,19 year old mind- i had no one in my life that fit this profile and probably never would. i knew i was far from perfect and had my share of situations with people where i had behaved in ways i regretted, but i couldn't and still can't fathom kicking a dog, letting an elderly person stand while i sit and i can't even come up with something for children, because kids are the BEST. so how could this be?it's so utterly perplexing.does one forget that they were once a child? does one think they will never grow old? of course we have behavioral patterns and model much of our belief systems on what we were taught and what we experienced in our childhood. yet, it cannot be that every person who is indifferent or unkind to a child,an elderly person or an animal had a difficult or abusive childhood. i know a number of people who have suffered enough abuse in their childhood that they could easily be living with PTSD and they are some of the kindest people i have ever known, especially to the three aforementioned groups. i wonder why a man who is obviously gay would erase a large number of gay people rather than trying to erase himself. maybe he feared the part of him that loved other men. maybe he was taught to. with so many of these mass shootings, the aggressor has a history of some sort of mental illness and/or emotional distress. I dream of a society where routine mental health check-ups would go hand in hand with annual routine physicals,from the time a child is born until they finish high school. As a society,we’d be more informed,the stigma of mental illness would carry less weight,those who needed it could get help and even rehabilitation and we’d possibly know better how to recognize the signs of an individual at risk to themselves or the general public.
i like to believe ALL kids begin as rainbows,wondrous,sometimes unexpected gifts from the universe,their nature both inquisitive and accepting of the differences and similarities that their tiny eyes behold.if only this could last forever. It feels as though,once we leave childhood, we can easily fall into making ourselves superior to everything unlike us. we might dishonor the elderly and find weakness in the process of aging instead of having gratitude for the continuation of life.maybe we think we are more important than the earth that is actually sustaining us as we bite the hand that feeds us and keep coming back for more.how strange that we judge eachother when its obvious that we are complicated and mysterious creatures.though it was decades ago , i've never forgotten the sufi's advice because it has tended to be true. i would add some other things to that list,though: how they treat people of different ethnicities, how they treat the mentally and physically challenged,how they treat people of different sexual orientations, how they treat our mother earth.
now that i've been a parent for over 21 years, i'm just getting that my kids will always be my babies,even when they are grown and out of the house. in fact,as i listened to the parents of the victims of the orlando massacre , i could,for the first time, relate to what it must feel like to lose a grown up child.you can still see them as this little miracle,peering up at you from your cradled arms as you feed them; hearing them gurgle the words mama and daddy for the first time; their laughter, a song you never grow tired of; their smiles,proof that you did at least one thing right.
i have yet to write that song,btw. if i don't, i hope someone else will. everybody can use some
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Music can be healing,yes? I’m no healer,but in making music and sharing it, i like to think i can create a space for others to have a healing experience of their own. I am full of gratitude to the universe and to YOU for supporting what it is i do and i’ll be doing it at a venue near you pretty soon:-)
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