Twelve years ago, I would have never imagined planes deliberately flying into buildings, killing thousands. I would have never imagined we'd be taking off shoes at the airport because of an attempted in-flight bombing. I would have never imagined the extent of cover-ups perpetrated by a church protecting its priests, but not its children. I would never have imagined one man would go into a school and kill twenty children. I would have never imagined two men--one still in his teens--setting off bombs at a marathon.
All of these events are frightening. They make me want to hold my children and never let them go. I fear what could happen to them or what could be done to them. It's easy to think of one "bad guy" lurking in a corner far away. It's another to think of so many lurking in my neighborhood or around the corner. After all, I lived in New York during the attacks and I once crossed the Boston Marathon finish line myself.
I am well aware that the rest of the world has suffered through bombings, conflict and violence that I will likely never face. I am also well aware that as a resident of the United States, the likelihood of becoming a victim of a terrorist attack is 1 in 20 million and that my child is more likely to be hit by lighting than to be kidnapped. I know all of those things yet I, like every mother, worry and wonder.
I looked up a million articles describing how to best talk to my kids about violence, but it's not the talking I'm worried about, it's the living with violence that I grapple with. Yet, as I search, I know the answers are not on the internet, but in my heart. The truth is that I know that the best way to show kids how to deal with tragic and fearful situations is to keep going. To not stop flying around the world, to not stop believing in our fellow men and women, and to not stop cheering at marathons. To stop doing those things is to give in to fear and to give in to terrorism in its many forms.
It's not easy to keep going. After all, it's one thing for me to go out and face risks, but another to send my kids into the world, armed only with faith and love. I won't tell my kids about the bombings in Boston or 9/11 just yet. When they're old enough, though, we'll talk and I'll tell them that on September 11th, instead of leaving my office at NBC, I went to the newsroom to help. I'll tell them that even though the News Director said anyone could go home, everyone stayed. We were all scared. We were all worried. But we didn't hide and we didn't give in. We just kept going.