Shortly after the shooting in Ottawa two weeks ago, I was watching the news with Abby when they played footage of Sgt at Arms Ken Vickers being received at the House of Commons.
I did not expect all the questions that would flow out of my little four year old. “Why are they clapping?” “Why is he a hero?” and most poignantly, “why are they crying?”.
I explained to her, as best as I could, that he helped stop someone who had a gun from hurting lots of people. I answered honestly when she asked if anyone got hurt, and then was faced with the toughest question of all: “why would someone do that?”.
The best I could do was tell her that some people have hate in their heart, and there are lots of reasons why that happens. I told her people can make really bad decisions, and quoted Frozen: “people make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed”. I reassured her there are police officers, like her uncle, who are specially trained to stop people like this and put them in jail.
I then took it one step further, and told her it was our job to love these people anyway. There are troubles and problems in the lives of strangers that we know nothing about, and can’t always understand someone else’s struggle. We talked about hate breeding more hate, and that working towards understanding is the best way to resolve conflict. I went on to tell her that if she really tried, but couldn’t find love in her heart, she could always ask God for help. She seemed really satisfied by this, and we moved on.
It absolutely sucks having to talk about heavy issues like this with a four year old, however just yesterday I was able to see that as awful as these situations are, they create a framework for moral lessons. We were watching a show together and things got quite heated between two characters, one being particularly nasty to the other. My sweet little ginger haired girl turned to me and said “he should just show her love…because then she will show him love and they can stop fighting”.
Wouldn’t that be perfect if we all thought that way, all the time?