The loss of a child is a soul-shattering experience to endure under any circumstances. But the agony becomes even greater when the cause of death is as grotesquely unnatural as unprovoked gun violence or some other form--like a bomb-blast, knife-attack, truck-attack, or drone-attack--of extreme vehemence.
Gun violence in the United States in 2018 proved dire enough that high school students staged nation-wide walk-outs to protest the government's failure to reform gun laws and curb the epidemic of death by bullets. That the fatal shot was sometimes self-inflicted made the painful chaos no less tragic. This is not stated to point fingers or assign guilt but the absence of empathy or mindfulness in the form of compassion has been known to play as significant a role in some suicides as it has in homicides.
In addition: as 2018 entered its final quarter, approximately 5,000 children had become casualties of the war in Afghanistan. Moreover, forced displacement had put the lives of some 28 million children at risk. One of my favorite social media hashtags is #CompassionSavesLives and that could certainly prove the case in regard to those millions of children still at risk in 2019.
A Lesson on Compassion from the Kaleidoscope
Among the first questions to come up when planning the Kaleidoscope Moons Art Series was: Why choose kaleidoscopes to symbolize reclaiming the beauty of lives lost too soon? The answer is simple. The kaleidoscope by its very nature serves as an art of intentional compassion which automatically demonstrates an invaluable lesson. It does this via the following:
Kaleidoscopes of various styles contain sparkling fragments of different colors within a specific physical form, such as a telescope-like tube, or flat disc, which randomly assume different patterns. They might form swirls, stars, waves, diamonds, snowflakes, or other unidentifiable configurations containing many colors or just a few. But regardless of the numerous patterns and shapes it might assume, a kaleidoscope’s basic functionality as a cohesive whole playfully reflecting beauty composed of chromatic diversity remains intact.
How to sustain effective functionality in the face of unpredictable change is something humanity is struggling to learn as history reshapes patterns of demographic social, economic, racial, gender, religious, and generational realities. The lives of young and old alike depend on everyone paying attention and getting the answers right. And, truthfully, those answers--compassion, empathy, mindfulness, love--have been available for a long time.
Art of Intentional Compassion
While some automatically adapt to the shift and flow of history's reconfigurations, many allow fear to take over their better natures. They then turn to violence, or self-imposed isolation, in attempts to stop the unstoppable. Empowering them with compassion via the lesson of the kaleidoscope may be one way to encourage alternative life-affirming responses. For it is a lesson which suggests we can do more than survive powerful seemingly disruptive changes. We can harness the energies they generate to create dynamic new opportunities.
Art of intentional compassion has the potential to raise humanity's collective awareness in a way which helps us recognize and correct the folly of certain attitudes, policies, and practices. What, however, do we do when such awareness comes too late and children's lives--as well as those of adult women and men--have already been lost to what the late great author James Baldwin referred to as "ignorance allied with power?" Hopefully, my visual and written offerings along with those of other mindful compassionate thinkers will not just document such disastrous losses. Hopefully, they will help prompt all of us to do a lot more to prevent them in the first place.
author of The River of Winged Dreams
ceator of Silk-Featherbrush Artworks