Driving home from our local arboretum, I was thinking about the loveliness that is fall, humming along to the radio while golden leaves drifted over my windshield and sun streamed into the car. I was thinking about pumpkins, the scarecrow display we had just seen, the bright splashes of color on the trees, when a grumpy, nap-needing four year old piped up from the backseat,
“I don’t like humans.” O-kay.
“Why’s that?” I asked, sighing a little to myself and (reluctantly) turning the radio’s volume down.
“They do bad stuff” she grumped. “They litter.” (Had she just seen some trash along the road?) “They know they’re not supposed to, and they do it anyway. That’s why I don’t like them.”
Hmmm. What to say to that? Humans do do bad stuff all the time, and most of the time they know it’s bad, excusing or explaining it away with talk that is empty, opaque or blame-laying (on someone else, of course). How to explain to a four year old that human beings are capable of the worst atrocities, from genocide that wipes out millions to greed that destroys the health of both people and the rest of the planet? That people are greedy, selfish, cruel? That yes, we really do do bad stuff all the time? I wondered all of this while driving through our neighborhood, and then drove past our local firehouse and had my answer. [click to continue…]