As a parent, I’ve witnessed many moments of adoration by other parents. Last night, at my dojang’s blackbelt awards ceremony (my wife and son both received their belts) I was struck again by parental devotion. Watching my fellow parents, with grandparents, beam with pride at their child’s accomplishment was both delightful, and a little sad.
Decades ago now, I got to do some projects that helped street involved youth. In that process, I heard stories, terrible stories of (dare I say) evil parents. One of my friends from those days, an Episcopal deacon, shared with me once the power of this juxtaposition. We were sitting next to each other at our church’s children’s pageant. She pointed out to me the parental adoration. And her deep experience with it’s opposite. This, as you would expect, colored her view of such events. I have puzzled about this, too, ever since. How does a human get to be so monstrous? Vicious sociological cycles? Some sort of deficiency within genes? But, more critically, I ponder the monumental devastation wrought. And am filled with sadness.
Such thoughts come at these moments of intense love for my son, and the other children around me. And I think about this at mother’s and father’s day. What must it be like to see parental adoration when it’s been denied you?
To not end on such a sad thought, I bring you a few of the many organizations that work to counter-balance the misery. They truly do great and dignifying work.
- Nelly Ali and her work with street children across the globe
- Sanctuary Arts Center, in Seattle’s University district
- Seattle’s Street Youth Ministries