I once had an ESL student in South Korea who wrote an essay about how pointless she thought mosquitos were. She made a compelling and detailed argument, which ended with her simple, yet powerful declaration, “My mind is the truth.” I feel like that’s a mic drop, walk-away-without-looking-back moment of clarity. Nine years later, I still catch myself ironically repeating this simple declaration to myself whenever I become frustrated by actions that are so incomprehensible to me I feel my mind physically shuddering in the effort to make sense of it all.
Donald Trump for instance. A man who has categorized immigrants collectively as rapists and drug dealers is a contender for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination. What does that say about the state of our nation’s minds and hearts? I teach these immigrants, these teenagers who have escaped murder, rape, and starvation, who have been hunted like animals, who have survived detention centers, some alone, some with the daunting responsibility of protecting their younger siblings. These children sit in my class, shell-shocked, trying to learn English, while Donald Trump obliterates their humanity in the name of making America great again. Where is the truth in this xenophobic narcissism being hailed by more Americans than I ever believed possible?
I was born into a country of privilege that I did nothing to earn, but had I been born in a place where war, terror, and crime have strong footholds, I could possibly have been condemned to helplessly watch as one of my children was murdered by gangs or rebels, while my other child was handed the ultimatum to join them or die. I too would be desperate enough to attempt the harrowing, too often fatal plight towards hope. That is the truth.
Humanity stares us in the face everyday from social media, news outlets, and the people we cross paths with. I thank God for those who allow their hearts to be raw, to be moved to reach out in love. Too often it feels as if we have become so quick to judge, to look away, or to tear each other down. Fear that we will somehow have less if we give more of ourselves turns us against each other. That to me seems to be a clear path to destruction. How can squashing the desperate of our world like annoying mosquitos restore any nation?
I look at my sweet, sassy daughter. I love how she belly laughs so easily. I am achingly grateful that we have the freedom in our lives to read books before bed, to shake it off to Taylor Swift in the living room, and to play with friends at the Children’s Museum. We don’t have to worry each day if this is the day we will die from terrorism, starvation, or disease. We are free to live our lives. As a mother, I am free to hope for my precious little person’s future. A future filled with laughter, and of course some tears. Tears that will teach her lessons, tears that will make her a better person, and I hope tears for those who have been born into circumstances less fortunate than hers, moving her to pray, to love, and to hope for those who represent the hard truths we don’t want to acknowledge.
With thankful hearts we set about making General Tso’s Cauliflower for our dinner this week. Words cannot do this recipe justice. My little person didn’t even understand that she was eating cauliflower. She kept thanking me for “the cheese stuff.” As I kissed my little love good night, we thanked God for full hearts and full tummies. We prayed that we may pass those blessings on to others, and we prayed for those, who like in this video for example, have stepped forward in faith and love to reach those who are risking their lives to find safety.