Kids are kids no matter where they live. They want to have fun, be silly, laugh and imagine. But, tragically, when violence strikes— whether in the form of bullets and bombs, or natural disasters—the joy of childhood is often one of its first victims.
Childhood is a beautiful, fleeting thing. Losing it to conflict or disaster is tragic. It robs kids of an integral part of their life… and that is a type of violence. It unmakes the world. But when violence unmakes the world, love has the power to remake it.
Fortunately, there are a few grown-ups who know that love is best served the way people want to receive it, and for kids that usually means through play. These people are doing God’s work while dressed in costumes.
In Europe, there is a group of clowns, musicians, and performers who regularly visit refugee families living in harsh conditions. They put on shows and provide much-needed laughter in the midst of tragedy, loss, displacement, and anxiety. They are the comic relief in these kids’ lives, letting them forget the violence for a moment, so they can just be kids.
In Texas, there is a man dressing up like Spiderman and visiting children in shelters for people affected by Hurricane Harvey. He’s showing up in full-costume with a backpack full of stickers and giving kids a reason to be happy again.
Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man making kids smile at the GRB: pic.twitter.com/K2NSweXAE4
— Stef Manisero (@StefManisero) August 29, 2017
Kids are people too and they need their worlds remade with love. But they need to be loved the way they understand love. Not just the way we understand love. It’s not just flashlights and dry clothes and protein bars. It’s also imagination, games, art, and corny jokes. We have to show up for kids the way they need us to show up.
The issues of the world—the refugee crisis, war, thousand-year floods—are overwhelming and serious, even for adults. Kids need a break from it. And they need us to see that their little lives are just as important as the massive problems we’re trying to fix.
Spiderman and those clowns… they get it. They are helping those kids be whole again. They are remaking those kids’ world one puffy sticker, one silly performance, and one small smile at a time.
This is peacemaking.
And if these people can do it with clowning and a leftover Halloween costume, surely we can do it with whatever we’ve got.
We all have something we can do to help unmake violence and remake the world. With a little creativity, we can figure out how to leverage our resources for peace. Whether you use your cupcake-baking skills to raise funds, your boat to rescue people, your musical skills to raise awareness, or your superhero costume to bring kids joy, focusing on what you’re good at and uniquely positioned to offer is the best way to wage peace.
So… what you like to do? How can you use it for good? If you can’t figure it out, call up your creative friends and have a brainstorming session to think of some out-of-the-box ways you could show up and make a difference. Just do something, no matter how small it seems.
Because sometimes the small things are the most important ones.
Peacemaker Friday is published weekly to share stories of people unmaking violence around the world. Be inspired. Take Action.