I am not sentimental or nostalgic. I rarely look back on what many of my generation refer to as “the good old years.”
I enjoy the benefits of living in an age where I can carry my phone with me. I believe online shopping is a godsend and who can complain about watching first-run movies at home in your jammies and fuzzy shoes?
When I do look back, I realize how thankful I am for my childhood. It saddens me that current political stances make those experiences impossible for other children.
If I could go back in time, I’d take my six-year-old self by the hand and tell her to soak up the treasure of her diverse community. The Lebanese, Syrian, Jewish and Greek merchant’s shops she visits with her grandmother reveal cultures that she would have never experienced otherwise. She doesn’t know this will shape her acceptance of other people.
The children of these immigrants are her school mates. Their surnames are their only distinguishing factors. Like her, they live for recess and hate arithmetic as much as she does. She doesn’t know that her future holds a government that fails to value the diversity of immigrants.
The beginning of every school day began with the pledge of allegiance, before “under God” was added. (My six-year-old self attended Sunday school and if I am truthful, she didn’t think much about God until the following Sunday.) There was no school prayer thus no one suffered the indignity of paying respects to an unfamiliar deity in a diverse classroom.
As a fifth-generation Texan, I knew about guns. My father did not own a gun and we never felt unsafe due to the absence of a weapon in our home. My six-year-old self looked forward to the fire and tornado drills in school as a respite from the classroom. I cannot imagine the fear she would have felt at the thought of hiding from a gunman.
A six year old today has never experienced the wonder of summer fireflies teasing us with the mystery of their source of light. Butterflies, bees and some species of birds no longer visit.
I can look back with joy at the advantages my six year old self enjoyed. Without significant change in our leadership, a six year old today will inherit a world sadly lacking those advantages.