My oldest daughter has raised her level enough to start making me pause in conversation. It used to be that I could get by with answering simple questions about colors or direction or who the is band on the radio (Led Zeppelin, sweetheart – thanks be to God) or what the word “reveal” means. You can just answer those kinds of questions. They’re facts – just the facts, ma’am.
But recently, I find myself pausing when she asks me things because she’s asking me questions that I have answers to, but I don’t want to give them to her. Why can’t some children live with their parents? Why are some people Florida State fans? (Kidding… mostly.)
We were riding in the car the other day and the girls were reading books in the back seat, as is their custom. The younger one is reading about Disney movies or something, but the older one has a stack of books she checked out from the library about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted for her to be reading about Dr. King. I got to tell her about Mahalia Jackson’s prompt that instigated him to turn a fine speech to what is arguably the best sermon preached in the past 100 years, bar none. Gigi got to share about the good work of peacefully fighting for equal rights for all people. We’re glad to share those stories.
But the questions came. Why weren’t people all treated the same? So we had to explain racism and prejudice and hate, concepts that are absolutely absent from her heart but that we had to bring into her world. And then came the one I was dreading: Why did they shoot him? Why indeed.
I think perhaps the best thing I can share with my daughters is that Dr. King, and so many others, fought against what was wrong in this country and while we have come far, we have not come far enough. There is still work to be done. People still fear and hate because of skin or language or culture or gender. As long as it does, we have work to do. And my daughters can be part of that work, that story that will bring us to what Dr. King called “the Beloved Community.” Let it be, Lord.