Our Children Will Teach Us

I’ve been writing this blog in my head for nearly a week now. Ever since my seven-year-old son and I were eating dinner at Subway and a news story about the Philando Castile case came on the television. I wasn’t really paying attention to the TV, but out of nowhere my son asked…

“What are they talking about, Daddy?”

How do you explain something like this to a child? How do you explain something like this to a child that is taught to trust the police? How do you explain something like this to a child that is trying to figure out right and wrong and up and down?

Please, do not think for a second that I know what really happened here. I don’t know what the police officer felt, or what threat Mr. Castile may or may not have posed. I don’t have any answers. All I have are questions.

I tried to explain, as best I could, that the police officer shot the driver of the car, because he was scared of something.

“He’s a police officer, Daddy. Why was he scared?”

More questions. We talked about how dangerous a police officer’s job is, and that they put their lives on the line every single day. They are scared, because they do a scary job. My son seemed to understand that.

“But shooting someone who is just sitting there is something that the bad guys do, Daddy…not the police.”

More questions.

Then today I watched police footage of what happened right after the incident. You should watch it. You really should. But, please know that it is hard to watch.

The depth of my soul cries out for a four-year-old little girl who has to say these words to her mother:

“Mom, please stop saying cuss words and screaming because I don’t want you to get shooted…”

The innocence and love of a four-year-old girl who, in a moment of great sorrow, says this to her mother:

“I could keep you safe…”

What does it say about us, as adults, when a little four-year-old child is the one person in this situation with the wisdom to declare:

“I wish this town was safer. I don’t want it to be like this anymore.”

Again, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know the right response. I don’t have any answers, only questions.

But I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my son and Mr. Castile’s daughter possess a wisdom beyond their years. A wisdom beyond most adults.

And I pray that we adults can find some answers before it is too late for our children.

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