The floats were slowly moving past with beads and moon pies and other Mardi Gras bounty being thrown from their decks. Music filled the air along with a general happy vibe. Then a loud shot rang out and the little boy in front if me dropped to the street and covered his ears. It was only the pirate float’s mini-cannon firing blanks but to the little boy it was gun fire.
Photographing Mardi Gras is great fun. Capturing different faces and costumes is quite a diversion from the nature photography that is my focus. But on this day my attention kept being drawn to the little boy who repeatedly dropped to his knees and flinched whenever there was the sound of a gun during the parade. Admittedly, I was unnerved a bit at first because the crowd was quite large and we all know anything can happen. But once I knew the source of the blasts it was simply an annoyance. For the child, it was anything but that.
Until reaching ten to twelve years of age, a child is in a concrete stage of learning without the ability to conceptualize and gain understanding of what is real and what is not real. So for the little boy yesterday, the shotgun blanks in the cannons were real gun fire. He couldn’t see over the crowd so could not locate the source of the blasts.
Fear was evident in his eyes and face, in his body movements. I finally knelt down and said, “Those sounds are scary aren’t they?” He nodded and his face relaxed. He went back to waving to floats and gathering beads and moon pies.
I can’t stop thinking about him…and all children who live in fear because of an increasingly violent society. What have we done to create a more gentle world? How have our actions or perhaps our non-actions contributed to the anxiety and fear of our children? How can we help make our communities kinder, more nurturing for our youth?
So…may we collectively find that which keeps us from loving fully and clear it from our hearts and minds. May love continue to grow and blanket our precious young ones. May the example we set teach our children of love instead of hate, of love instead of fear.