A Letter to my Daughter, When the World Seems so Scary

Jan 6, 2021

Yesterday, we watched all day long as what was supposed to be a very.boring government business day turned into something of a nightmare. I couldn’t look away and neither could the world, as rioters from a pro-Trump protest pushed police out of the way and overran Capitol Hill and let themselves in to the inner sanctum of where debate and discourse often happens.

The unknown was so high that it reminded me of being glued to the tv all day at school, the day of 9/11. Watching places that you had previously thought secure and sacred be tainted by hate.

Yesterday, the US was compared to many other toppled democracies around the world and the images couldn’t be denied.

All because they were upset and hurt and at a loss for what had happened. So instead of learning from their conflict, pulling apart the layers of their discontent and trying to communicate in a way that made sense- they chose intimidation, desecration and violence, the first go-to of emotionally stunted people.

I spent the day explaining to Baba and NaiNai how this could happen, the constitutional freedoms that allowed for the protest and the bone-deep hate and disregard that led to people to mistake madness for victory. No one won yesterday, in fact many lost.

I felt deep embarrassment and shame to have to explain this to our Chinese-born and raised family, how freedoms can sometimes mean chaos and disrespect for others. How the meaning of normalcy has changed a lot from when I was a child growing up in the US.

It’s not enough to be a good person, to wish your neighbour well but for some, it seems disavowing your neighbor because they have different opinions, different beliefs and different understanding of the meaning of common truths. We no longer have the same basis of understanding. I keep saying the sky reflects the sea but someone says the sea and sky are working to conspire against us while you lay content on your bed made of earth.

That is where we find ourselves, the misinformation that leads to chaos. The violence that occurs from a place of anger and privilege. The chasm of division between family and neighbors all claiming to belong to the same righteousness.

Seeing the events yesterday made me worry do you. For your safety, even these hundreds of miles away because ideas travel faster than we have breathe. And I cannot protect you from them all.

It’s as if, the plot to every American anarchy film was inspired by this moment in life, as art is won’t to do but this felt paralyzing. While watching the Purge, I know that we are not as ridiculous to assume one day of debauchery and violence will quell the storm inside of us and yet, I wonder if this is the beginning of something more. We can’t put the demons back into Pandora’s Box because they have already been let out and dispersed into our hearts.

Topsy-turvy surrealism vs real life- is this real life?

People are grateful it didn’t become a worse situation but how could it be worse? Loss of life? Yes, that happened. Loss of a sense of security and safety? Yes, that happened. But even worse, the seeds of distrust have already been planted.

I work to make the world better for you, trying to build systems of change in inclusion and belonging.

I believe change happens when we use conflict as an opportunity for growth. When we try to make our piece of the world better for ourselves and our children but I don’t believe in scorching the earth and each other to do so.

The world has so much beauty but it’s also full of discontent. Look for the beauty. Look for the opportunity to do better than my parents and your parents, but the burden shall not be on you alone. I will do my best to pave the way so your journey will be easier and your heights higher.

I hope you forgive us for not being braver earlier.

I love you,

Your mother.

Published by JSantana

Obsessed with Intentional Inclusivity and Fierce Belonging. Delivering Culture-Driven Leaders.

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