As I watched the college students celebrating in the streets after hearing the news of Bin Laden’s demise, I wanted to ask them why they were cheering before I passed judgment. I have two daughters close in age with these students, so I wanted to know what was going through their minds.
I see a generation now that is conflicted. They were young children when 9/11 happened. With modern technology, there is no way our kids could have been totally sheltered from the constant barrage of disturbing news coverage. As a hurting nation, we, as parents, were in total shock and tried to cope with the unfathomable, tragic losses, each in our own way.
Perhaps, we didn’t know all the right questions to ask our impressionable children. It’s obvious that 9/11 impacted their lives in ways that they don’t fully understand and we weren’t prepared for. I am wondering if this isn’t really about celebrating the death of an evil terrorist but is more about reclaiming some of the innocence from their childhoods.
Maybe we should…
1. take the time now to talk with young adults and see what’s on their hearts.
2. acknowledge their fears and concerns as being real.
3. remember our public display of emotions as baby boomers during contentious times rather than saying their responses are inappropriate or wrong.
4. start a conversation with our older children by asking, “9/11 was so difficult for all of us, in your opinion, what could we have done better and differently as parents?”
5. try to not undermine their feelings by stating the obvious, “In my day, we experienced the assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother running for public office and Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.”
6. be honest with your own feelings and ask how we might be more sensitive to those who lost loved ones and to the many survivors of 9/11, as it must be hard to have to relive old wounds again.
7. keep challenging our young adults to help work towards a common goal of hope and peace.
8. not underestimate this generation whose voices can truly make a difference as being a part of change.