However, sending love is only one step. We also need to fight for equality and for peace.
For Kids Creative, this weekend's horrible events were sandwiched by events of peace. On Saturday, our high school apprentices did a reading of their original play, "Undecided", which portrayed a teen who was shunned by his family for being gay. He runs away (in true Kids Creative fashion, he runs away on a shuttle to Mars) and meets another teen, Mac, and together they fight the bigotry of hate. They are accepted by Mac's family immediately, an eye-opening experience for our protagonist. However, the play ends with violence, a gun shot from the protagonist's father killing the protagonist's mother, accidentally shot during a fit of rage. This group of students created this play together using the motto "All ideas are good" and tackled these issues head on, not concerned with identities and perceptions. They left us with hope and recognizing that there is still so much work to do.
The other event was on Monday, after we learned of the Orlando shooting. The Kids Creative summer leadership staff gathered in that same room for our annual Peace & Culture training before summer camp. To start off each training, we join together in a circle and take three steps. First, we think about everything we brought into that training--news of tragedy, illness, a bad commute, etc. We look up, take a step in and we leave all of that behind us. We are now in a new space as a group. Second, we take a step back and recognize our new community, creating a collective force field to tackle any difficult issues together. Finally, we step in once again, this time recognizing our new space and acknowledging that we're in this together.
It is increasingly necessary to discuss gun violence with children. This is not an easy topic. We must be transparent with our kids about what steps we are taking to make sure they, and we, are safe. Our hope is that using "All ideas are good," we can create a space where we listen to each other and achieve a lasting, sustainable peace, where differences are recognized and appreciated and conflicts are solved through communication, rather than violence.