The sincerity of a 5 year old
standing straight and tall on a bench at the table, blue eyes bright
a passionate speech delivered
about love, hate, division
about broken hearts
She learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. at school today, and full of fervor, recounted the events of the Civil Rights Movement. She is known for giving spontaneous speeches, and I listened closely. My 5 year old, in all her innocence, spoke such truth in a time when it feels like truth is lost:
“You shouldn’t judge people. It matters what you say, even how you look at people. Words hurt. It can break your heart. It splits them in two. When people are mean to people just because they look different, it hurts their heart. It doesn’t matter what your skin looks like, or your hair, or your eyes. Your heart is what matters.”
“He was a good man. I want to be like him. I look up to him. Even though he’s dead, I look up to him. He wanted people to be friends.”
An hour before, I spent time sketching a portrait of one of my dearest friends.
I heard today what our President said about her country, many countries; the man who is supposed to represent the land of opportunity, the land built of immigrants, who calls other countries “shitholes.” Just a few days before we celebrate the bravery of Martin Luther King, our president again shows his racism.
In response, I sought to honor my friend by drawing her beautiful face, thinking of her grace and kindness, her strength and worth. I thought of my many friends from Haiti, Peru, Vietnam, Indonesia, Yemen; people I see and love everyday. People who matter. People whose hearts are broken by other people who judge them and do not know them.
A 5 year old knows we are all human; that we all have deep worth, and that it lies in our hearts. No matter our gender, our ethnicity, our religion, our country. We would do well to listen to her and do what is necessary to restore our common humanity. It seems more fragile every day.
“Whatever you do in life…remember…think higher, and feel deeper. Life is not a fist. Life is an open hand waiting for some other hand to enter it in friendship.” -Elie Wiesel