I recently became a grandmother. Baby Wyatt was born on Thanksgiving Day, 2021. A new life coming into the world is nothing short of miraculous. I feel tremendous joy watching my Katie nurturing her own child. My husband tells me he can always tell when I’m talking to the baby because my tone of voice changes, becoming soft-spoken and as excited as the quickening of a baby’s heart. A child was born. I love this baby.
I don’t know if I will be around to see Wyatt grow up. Frankly, I don’t know what kind of world he will grow up in, and that has me worried. I feel a sense of failure and frustration because it was my generation that was supposed to fix things. We wanted to make a world that was more equitable for all people. We were once young, idealistic, and thought we could change the world. But we didn’t.
I have written professionally for years. Whether I wrote fiction or nonfiction, I often concealed my feelings to create work that was polished and not emotionally wrought, unless there was a good reason to make people feel an emotional connection. I have never been soppy, mawkish or maudlin, and I have never offered to bare my soul. But things have changed.
Now, I want to talk to you personally, from a place deep inside of me, a place of heart. I come to you with my grief because I cannot turn away from the images of suffering coming from Ukraine. I do not understand the insanity or the cruelty and it tears my own heart in two. In the middle of the night, I often wake and ask myself: Why does humanity make the same mistakes over and over?
I know what some of you might say. Your children are grown and healthy. You have a great marriage. You spend the bulk of your time writing—doing what you’ve always wanted to do your entire life. Be happy. Enjoy your life! Enjoy your new role as a grandmother! Forget about the troubles of the world! But I cannot banish the knowledge that I am not leaving a better world behind for my grandson.
I know that being good and kind is a choice. I know that some people choose evil over good. And I know that some people who pretend to be good are actually evil. I know that some people choose to amass power and they will destroy anyone who stands in the way. So long as there are people who choose evil over good, the lives of innocents will not be spared.
Can there ever be one humanity? A world without war and genocide? Can there be a world that cares about stewardship—those things that are good, kind and true? I don’t know. The cynical side of my nature says, absolutely not. And yet, I am always enchanted by humanity’s ability to rise from the ashes to build a new world, and to conceive of a better way of doing things.
So, I must ask the same question of you that I ask of myself in the middle of the night: Why do we make the same mistakes over and over? Maybe you know the answer. I’ve opened the door to have a conversation. I welcome your thoughts. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.