the Change I Wish to See

...and whatever else it takes to find my pants



So we seem to, actually I guess it's better for me to say, many of us have suffered from what seems like a list of disasters lately, both natural and man-made. Both of these are pictures I found of tsunami survivors.

And this one, from a while ago, of playtime in Bosnia, always got to me.
So, with kids in Israel and Lebanon in mind, below is something I wrote a while ago thinking about children in schools around the Towers on 9/11:

I wanna scream.
Not for me, but for my son;
not that I got one, but just in case he comes.

See, I'm one of those over-cautious, extra-conscious kinda guys:
I hate being surprised
and I hate not having answers for inquiring eyes.
So for a while I've been trying to decide
just how I'd reply the first time my son asks why
his world is on fire.

At first, I thought I'd just regurgitate the lines
that from the beginning of time
parents have spit at kids mixed with point blank evasiveness, like:
"We didn't start the fire"
or, "It's so far off shore, it'll never reach New York."
But kids have hearts like polygraphs,
so he'd just discard the mask and continue to ask.

But how do you tell a child the truth when you're still in denial?
I still can't believe we've ruined their dreams
before they even had a chance to sleep.

When I was a kid, things were different.
Up to 4th grade, I thought a racist was some kind of track star.
'Cause when you're 8,
your only races should be 50-yard dashes
or quick escapes after cabbage-patch snatches.
And none of them use colors of faces
as a legitimate basis.
'Cause in color races, you only race against yourself.

Now nothing's the same.

When the towers fell,
there was a school on a nearby street.
When the smoke began to clear,
I watched children choking on the ashes of their parents.
Children lived those buildings crumbling
like steel urban crackers;
their faces shocked, afraid
of an evil they didn't recognize.

I wish the bleeding stopped that day.
But it didn't.
So one day I'll have to tell my son
that there are kids his age who'd have food
if only they could eat through the chains.
That there are kids, only 8,
who can't go out and play
'cause the army cut off their hands in a diamond trade.

I'll tell him everything he should never have to know.
But I won't tell him our present will be his future,
with all the mistakes of the past.
I won't tell him that to bar up the windows
the monkey bars were stripped,
or "don't play in the basement:
it's a shelter in case we're hit."

I won't do it.
Won't abandon our children to save myself,
or push their freedom back
to the dark corner on the shelf.
Won't tell them I hate life so much
that I'd kill their chance to live it,
or even touch it,
just once.

Kids today fall victim to our lack of appreciation,
'cause they're nothing short of miracles
but we treat them like mere products of our creation.
We do them no favors
when we say they're the future but push them off for later.
We owe them more than static reincarnations of our acts.
I only wish more of us could realize that.