When I first heard about the explosions in Manchester, my first thought was that it was probably a terrorist attack, even though all the sources I read were careful to note that it was too early to identify the cause. I hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t.
I hate that my gut instinct was to immediately assume it was a terrorist attack, but when you look around at the world, it is plainly evident that this has become somewhat of a new normal. A week after I came home from Israel last May, there was a terrorist attack at the market where my group spent a few hours several days before. Last July, a gunman took advantage of a peaceful protest march and killed five officers in downtown Dallas, in a neighborhood I go through almost everyday, ending in the community college where I’ve taken classes. About two weeks after I came home from Germany in December, there was another attack at a Christmas market in Berlin. In April, I frantically texted a friend who lives in London after a notification from CNN informed me there had been an attack near Parliament; she was safe. I haven’t had to bear the unimaginable grief and pain of losing someone in these senseless attacks or being in the middle of one, but it breaks my heart every time I hear of another one. This is not the world I want to live in.
I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be raising a child right now. I could barely keep my tears in check when I tried to explain to my fourth graders why refugees were being turned away and detained at the airports back in January. One student asked if that could happen to them and I almost lost it. Instead I told them that they were safe because their parents and their teachers and rabbis and entire community would make sure of that.
When I usually think about my (maybe?) future child(ren), I’m making mental note of books I want to read to them, things I want them to know about me and my mom, the values that I want to instill in them. But now? Now I also think about what I will tell them when the world seems so frightening, how I will protect them from those who hate people of color or Jews, how I can teach them to stand up not only for themselves, but also for the people around them who can’t because they’re afraid. I think about how I need to make sure they will be more emotionally resilient than I was.
Lately, I have found myself wondering if bringing a child into this world is selfish, because, if I am being completely honest, I have never been more scared about what the future will bring. But that’s what terrorists aim to do, right? They want to disrupt our lives and replace our hope with fear and uncertainty. To give in and let the increasingly prevalent attacks change how I want to live is to give in to that fear they need. I sure as hell don’t want anyone I don’t know running my life, so why would I let those bastards do the same damn thing?