Put peace, homes in kids’ future
BY LORETTA YAJIMA
Honolulu Star Advertiser – May 17, 2017 There’s nothing like looking at the world through the eyes of children, like seeing the wonder and beauty of life revealed in simple drops of rain or in the fragrant petals of a plumeria. It helps to remember how much can be discovered by using your eyes, your ears, and your nose — and how much more can be shared, if you also use your heart.
As an educator, I have spent a lifetime searching for ways to help children make those simple discoveries so that they can savor life to the fullest and reach their greatest potential.
The journey has been fraught with obstacles and roadblocks. But any doubts pale in comparison to the fear and a sense of helplessness about what is happening throughout the world today. We teeter on the brink of a future that is worrisome for our children and their children.
We profess to the importance of doing what is in the best interest of our keiki. But what are we actually doing to prepare them for a future in a world that has become filled with senseless turmoil and violence, with young children scurrying under foot in homeless shelters and slums, and in refugee camps and war zones.
I recently took part in two local events: an international peace conference, a convening of educators and leaders that work with young children, and a prayer breakfast
The peace conference brought together some dedicated individuals, full of warmth, vision and incredible sensitivity and compassion. While they talked of peace in a secular and highly politicized world, it was a spiritual gathering of like-minded souls.
The prayer breakfast, an annual pre-Easter congregation of leaders in Hawaii, also brought together caring and thoughtful individuals. The underlying message there was a plea to remember what we share in common and the bonds that make us a community, a nation and, more importantly, human. The gathering was just as moving and spiritual.
Both left me pondering the question, “What is best for our children?”
After a lifetime of searching, I still don’t know the specific answer to that question. But what I do know is that war and confrontation is not the answer. Building fences will not make better neighbors, and building walls will not keep our children safe.
There are many ways to provide what is in their best interest: safety, security, stability, education, guidance, comfort and love. And if there ever was one essential and common ingredient in all the recipes we might concoct, it is this: peace.
If we truly want what’s best for our children — no matter their nationality, economic standing, color or creed — it will have to be preceded by peace for everything else to truly matter.
And while some may believe it’s all in the hands of our world leaders, the truth is: It’s really up to us to do our part to change the direction we seem to be headed in. We cannot let go of the one thing that seems so elusive: Hope.
Citizenship in America and in any democracy is never easy. The generation that preceded us understood this well. Their sacrifice during World War II is legendary. They fought to take control of their world from a dictator and for our freedom.
Our grandparents’ generation also understood this. The first generation Japanese in Hawaii had a saying that guided all of their decisions and validated their sacrifices: Kodomo no tame ni, for the sake of the children.
Our generation has a chance to do the same and do something truly meaningful for the sake of all children throughout the world. We have an obligation to do our part to insure that we leave the world a little bit better for the sake of our children, each in our own way.
Loretta Yajima is chairwoman/CEO of the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center in Kakaako.