Their children are our children

A poem and a prayer for all children in the world.

Their children is our children

My dear friend Dr. Deborah Adamy offers weekly words of wisdom in her podcast, “Enlighten: Uplift & Inspire”!  Last week she shared a short message for our humanity.  Inside it she quoted Valarie Kaur, a Sikh Activist and documentary filmmaker.

Valarie’s quote addressing the current circumstances in the Middle East touched me deeply.  So deeply that I did a little search on Valarie and ended up cheering and crying from her passionate Ted Talk at TedWomen back in 2017; and let me tell you, it still rings true today!

Here is her Ted Talk, “3 Lessons of Revolutionary Love in a time of Rage”.  Have some time afterwards to ground yourself and drink some water. It’s worth it. (Video is about 22 min.)

And this is her quote that inspired my classes this week:

“Our most powerful response to the horror in Israel and Palestine is to refuse to surrender our humanity. 

You will be told by some: The deaths of Israeli children are unfortunate but inevitable, because Israel’s occupation of Palestine is brutal and wrong.

You will be told by others: The deaths of Palestinian children are unfortunate but inevitable, because it is the only way to keep Israel safe from terror, and Hamas brought this on its own people. 

Both will say: Our aggression is the only response to their aggression, our fear more justified than their fear, our grief more devastating than theirs ever will be. 

 But oh my love, the hierarchy of pain is the old way. The moment we allow our hearts to go numb is the moment we shut down our humanity. 

I don’t know the solution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine, but I do know the starting point: To grieve “their” children as our children.  It’s the only way to break the cycle. 

To my loved ones who are Israeli, Jewish, and Palestinian: I see your searing pain. I love you and grieve with you and am reciting my ancestors’ prayers for protection as you search for your families and bear the unbearable. May love find you through the impossible. 

 To all of us witnessing this story: What does love want you to do? 

 If you cannot look at the news and the images: It’s okay. Step away, be with the earth, go to the trees, let them breathe through you; remember that you don’t need to do all the things, just the one that’s yours to do. 

If you want to help but don’t know how: Begin in relationship. Who in your life is hurting from this? Offer to walk with them, listen to them. There is no fixing grief, only bearing it together. Only then do we know what to do next. 

If you are falling apart: Your breathlessness is not a sign of your weakness, but of your strength. Of how deeply you feel the horror, how deeply you care. You still feel. And that matters in a world that wants us to feel nothing. Who can feel it with you? breathe with you?

Opening our hearts to grief— others and our own— is how we hold our humanity in a world that would destroy it. It’s how we will begin to survive .” – Sikh activist, Valarie Kaur.


It is that potent question, “What would love want you to do”?, that I really hooked into.

The question is vast. We can attribute it to this immediate moment, or we can attribute it to the wider, more ongoing situations in life and in the world.

It’s a timeless question.  One I believe that we must ask ourselves each day.

It reminded me of my teacher, Priti, Robyn Ross, who would always say, “Instead of asking ‘is it the right thing to do,’ ask instead, ‘is it the loving thing to do’?” 

This question helped me through some of the most difficult decisions of my life. It’s helped me to make other decisions with such ease and joy too!

And, it continues to help me when my heart breaks for all the families of the Middle East.  Those whose children have died, those who cannot feed their children right now, or maybe them.  And when I think of the children themselves. 

I am blessed, privileged, and lucky to be able to watch my own kids getting ready for Halloween these days. And yes, I have talked to my eight year old about the war. Not perfectly, but I felt it the loving thing to do.




A poem, a prayer, for all the children of the world:

“You are so loved, Sweet One.

You are so wanted.

This world is a better place because of you.


Dear Sweet One, do not think that you are unloveable, know that you are love itself.

Do not think everything and everyone is against you, there are MANY MORE who are here for you!

May you let your heart feel all the emotions, and may you know your heart will guide you to your Truth.

May you know how wise you are, how smart and strong you are. 

May you know you NEVER need to do anything alone.


May your heart be happy.

May you know deep, sweet peace.

May you run in open fields of grass and sunlight with the wind kissing your cheeks, free as the birds in the sky!


May you grow beautifully, following your whims and wishes.

May you be nourished with the love of others.

May you give your heart freely, trusting the infinite love that surrounds you now and forever.”


So, dear reader, what would love have you do right now? Keep asking the question!


Love you,

Shawna Emerick 

Breathe and Believe.