The other day, my preschool-aged child asked me, “What is war?” I fumbled through an answer that was accurate yet sterilized to match her young age. It is indeed sad that a preschooler may be asking such a question. Yet anthropologists tell us that humans have been dealing with violence since the beginning of civilization. Though just because we may have, deep down, urges to be aggressive and even violent, it need not be the only impulse that shapes our behavior.
Just as innate as aggression, is our drive to be kind to one another, to lift others up, and to express love. This same preschooler, who fights with her sibling and has already been exposed to the concept of war, also knows how to share her toys, show comfort and affection. Just the other day, she, unprompted brought me a tray of canned fruit and granola bars after I told her I wasn’t feeling well. The instinct both to lash out and to love is a part of the fiber of every human being.
So, it is our responsibility, as leaders, as parents, as mentors, as fellow humankind, to be aware of our inner drives.
During our interactions with others, through words and action, we can choose who it is we are going to be – the one who spreads love or the one who shows contempt.
We have the ability to respond (response-ability) to others with kindness, with goodness of heart, and with actions of love. And maybe, just maybe, the preschoolers of future generations will not even have the words “war” or “violence” in their vocabularies.