December 7, 2022- The 13-year-old pulled the hood of his coat tightly over his head, keeping that head down, as much as possible, while making it clear that he was trying to follow instructions, as best he could. Such is the daily life of a recent refugee from a place where conflict rages. The reactions of people, especially young people, who are in an outwardly safe place while inwardly reeling from all they have seen and heard, smelled and felt, over the past months and years of their lives, run the gamut from manic energy to gross task avoidance to abject terror. The stress they must feel is extreme, palpable and is with them 24/7.
This is the rough part of December, for many: Pearl Harbor was attacked 71 years ago; the best friend of a good friend died two years ago; the finances of many are being hammered, as the December Doldrums, the worst time of year for investors, play out and the days inch shorter.
Of course, in short order, celebrations will pick up, as will the stock market- in mid-month. Solstice will come and the days will get imperceptibly longer. The victims of war, however, will need all manner of understanding and support. As conflicts rage, young people are living with grandparents, aunts and uncles-while their parents are back in the conflict zone-enduring God knows what. The children know, the children fear and the children tremble.
In another city, a 14-year-old stabbed herself, was rushed to hospital and thankfully was saved from physical death. Only unconditional love, which has poured out on social media and, hopefully, will pour out from her family, will restore her emotional and mental health. I saw that girl’s face in my mind, though I have never seen her image anywhere else. I heard her shaky voice, pleading to be loved.
As the First World’s and ten-percenters’ financial doldrums subside, and as the the celebrations of various holidays pick up, let us make a special effort to envelop those under stress with an uncommon love and unstoppable efforts at understanding. No child, indeed, no person, should be left behind.