Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA
Conversation with Children.from Esther Epp-Tiessen, PJC member and MCC Canada peace and justice staff
Children will have heard much about the attacks this past week, perhaps a good deal of it untrue. They may be upset and afraid. The following suggestions may help you to shape a conversation with children of your church.
This past week, some very sad events happened in the United States. (Children may wish to say what they know. Allow for some comments, but continue quite soon.) Some airplanes were used to destroy some important buildings in New York and Washington. Many people in the airplanes and the buildings were hurt or killed. Many people in the United States and around the world are very concerned about family and friends that live in those cities. We don't know who did these terrible things or why they did them.
What do you think of all of this? Allow the children to say whatever they want. Don't judge their comments. Acknowledge the feelings that are expressed: worry, fear, sadness, confusion. Acknowledge that many adults are feeling al of these feelings too.
What do you think we could do? If some children express a desire to catch the "bad guys," explore what our hopes might be for them. Some people are saying that the United States should attack those people who planned these attacks. They are saying, the U.S. needs to retaliate. But doing that would probably just be hurting and killing more people, and it might not even be the guilty ones. Jesus taught us that we should love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us - we should not retaliate because that just makes for more violence.
We can't undo what happened, but we can show love. Love helps when people are sad or hurt or angry or scared. Love can help.
We can show love by praying. Who should we pray for? For people in the United States, for people whose family members died or were hurt, for government leaders, for airplane pilots and flight attendants, for people who travel on airplanes or who work in tall buildings.
We can show love by writing a letter to a child or a family in Washington or New York, letting them know we are thinking of them. In many place, people can show love by giving blood to help those who are hurt.
We can also show love by remembering that enemies are people too, people that God loves. We can remember to pray for people who hurt others. We can pray that they stop their hurtful ways.
Above all, we can remember that God loves each of us and is with us at all times.