I just got home from an afternoon with some of my closest friends and no matter how long we are apart, when we get back together it’s like we never missed a beat. Our kids are the same way, it’s overcast and cold here in NY yet the kids were outside running around playing, pretending to be warriors running with swords until all the parents started to remind them to be aware of the whereabouts of their friends and personal space. It got me thinking of awareness in general and how important it is on so many levels.
One of the first things I noticed I would do after 9/11 was to be more aware of my surroundings. Every time I would get on the subaway, I would take stock of the car’s contents. I did it for the “just in case” factor. For example…what if I got stuck on the train during an emergency? I would take note of who was sitting around me, pick out an identifying article of clothing they were wearing “just in case” that information was required…by whom? I have no idea. It was just something that would make me feel better in the days after that horrific one, I think everyone’s awareness was heightened then. These days it seems awareness of others is becoming less important. People are so busy with their own agendas they don’t take the time to notice their surroundings or the things in it. We’re constantly being cut off on the road from impatient drivers, stepped on in order to get on our trains (and God forbid anyone moves in 2 steps), or huffed and puffed at for not moving fast enough…what happened to good old fashioned patience and awareness? We all do things at our own pace, and I will admit I can get just as impatient as the next person but I try to stop myself and acknowledge that everyone is different for many reasons. I try to show my kids to be aware of the people around them, to step aside for fast movers, open the door for the woman with the stroller (or anyone who looks like they need some help), and to look both ways when they cross the street! These are a few of the many things they need to be aware of but you have to start somewhere, right?
I also try to make sure they’re aware of how they treat others and how they are being treated in return. I’m constantly preaching the importance of using their words correctly and diplomatically. Words can be hurtful and harsh and there is a right way to deliver even the hardest message. I understand frustration, especially at their ages can be overwhelming. I know that more often than not the wrong words will come out first but it’s important for me to remind them that the situation could have been handled differently and would have had a much better outcome for everyone involved.
I’m teaching them to be respectful of the human race in general and to be aware of the vast differences we are so fortunate and privileged to experience daily. One of my favorite things about living in NYC is the diversity of our neighbors. I think that’s why I’m so horrified about the disgusting act of violence that happened in the city I love so much yesterday. How can someone be so unaware and unfeeling that they can murder the very people who commit their lives to always being aware of their situations while protecting the people in their community? It’s disgusting. It’s cowardly. My heart goes out to the families of police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, to their communities, to their brothers and sisters who serve and protect. This country is in a fragile state you guys, and violence is never the answer. How can we make it stop? How can we raise awareness to a whole new level? I tell my boys that good is always going to win, it may take a while to get there but good always wins. I believe that.