Monday, January 19, 2009

People Get Ready, There's A Train Coming

"How did Martin Luther King, Jr. die at such a young age?" The Mayor asked.
He was so genuinely curious that I could tell he didn't know.

The Mayor has been learning about MLK in his class at school.

Wisely, the pre-k teacher skipped over the particulars of Dr. King's death.

But here he was asking me...

I was walking from the kitchen to the dining room, my arms full of dinner plates, about to set the table.

I stopped still in the doorway between the two rooms, wondering how I would answer.

The truth seemed too harsh for my four year old boy.

And yet, the truth is what's true.

What would The Mayor make of the shooting?

[This is the boy who worried for days because Simba's father died in The Lion King.]

I hesitated.

The Mayor understands that Dr. King was a good and kind man.

How could I explain why his life was taken? How could I explain hatred and evil to my small and still innocent boy?

I often reassure The Mayor when he gets worried about bad guys.
"Don't worry, Mayor! Good always triumphs over evil in the end. Good is much stronger than evil because it's much harder to be good."
I was concerned that the absolute finality of King's death by gun shot would shake The Mayor's faith in the idea that good prevails.

"How does good triumph when a great man is killed?"
In the morning we spent the day volunteering as a way to honor King's legacy and then made red, white and blue paper chain decorations for an inauguration party at a friend's house.

I thought about Barak Obama's train making its way to Washington and his swearing in as the 44th President of the United States of America tomorrow.

"That's how," I thought.

"You have to be much stronger to be good, to do the right thing no matter what. You have to wait a long time, but goodness prevails always."
I looked up to tell The Mayor, but he had moved on unanswered.

I set the four plates at our places at the table.


Fran Loosen said...

This made me misty.

Colin Powell said it well when he said that Martin would be so proud tomorrow, and then he'd put his hand on Barack's arm and tell him he needed to see him about a few things. The man kept moving forward, even though his body was stilled.

I'm still pinching myself.

flutter said...

that Mayor is a good egg

JCK said...

Oh, the is so hard. And you are so wise. So lovely that you all did a day of service today.

Ms. Maxwell said...

From MiniMe: "Mom, did you know that white people used to keep black people from using their public toilets?" From me: ...stunned silence at the thought...

Trotsky said...

Of course, this is why The Mayor tells his friend that Mommy doesn't know anything important.
Next time, just seize on the first thing that comes to your mind and blurt it out.
It's what I do and it's served me well.
Of course, I only have goldfish.

Avitable said...

MLK's actually alive and living with Elvis, didn't you know?

Angela said...

My husband had a very similar conversation with our 7 year old son last night, there was the discussion of doing the right thing even if the right thing was difficult to do, these little talks go a long way, as do our actions. Bravo to you and the Mayor!

Patience said...

MLK was doing something that was more important and much larger than him, more important and much larger than any one person. And sometimes people die too soon because of that.

Anonymous said...

This made me cry.
We are all part of a river that has brought us to this place and continues on after us. But our own place in the river isn't always an easy one. Thank you.

furiousBall said...

what a sweet kid. I like The Mayor a little more today.

Emily said...

You are such a wise wise woman.

mo.stoneskin said...

Unanswered for now, but his little mind will be ticking over...prepare your answer ;)

Bon said...

that is one hard conversation, and one poignant internal/external moment you captured.

i know those days are coming here, and the loss of innocence hurts me...yet in place of innocence comes, well, humanity. knowledge of good and evil, all of it.

this train of living doesn't stop or pause, does it?

Miss Ash said...

You made my eyes sweat a little here.