|You take that back!
Every child has an instinct, something that cries out the instant someone says or does something to hurt them -- "you take that back!" Somehow a child knows that what they just saw, heard or felt has made a permanent impression and they make a last primal cry for an emotional rewind and erase. The images of September 11, 2001 are theirs for life. I'm sure that on that fateful day, for an instant, children everywhere wanted someone to 'take it back'. Now the children have turned to us for security. What we have to say and what we do is critical, they're listening and watching.
All children begin life with the sounds of their native language, one word at a time until they learn to speak; if we say "hate" they'll say "hate." If we shake our fists, they'll shake their little fists. Could this be the pivotal moment in their history? A time for us to show how we can listen and try to understand? Can we react to these hideous events as though we were learning and teaching a new language? Ever mindful of our choice of words, one at a time, slowly and thoughtfully? Can we?
I'm an American and, as my father used to say, "American ends in 'I can'" So, I'm going to do what I can to speak a new native language so that maybe one day children won't be faced with an unspeakable horror and have to cry out in desperation, "you take that back!"
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