I was in the hotel pool area when I heard a little girl screaming bloody murder.
This was a couple weeks ago, a few days before Christmas.
My family was stranded at a Best Western in Fairmont, Minnesota.
We were trying to get from Minneapolis to my hometown in Iowa, but a winter blizzard had other plans for us, so we ended up at this decent hotel for a 3-day side adventure.
One day, I was in the pool area when I heard a little girl let out a piercing scream.
I looked over and saw a middle aged man dragging his ~3-year-old daughter toward a shallow-water kiddy pool, apparently trying to force her into some kind of impromptu swimming lesson.
She was clawing at the ground, attempting to dig her fingernails in to the concrete, shrieking at the top of her lungs.
She was clearly terrified.
After a few long seconds of this, he paused his attempts to force her into the pool and started to verbally berate her in a gruff, angry tone:
“You’re being a bigger brat than ever! There’s nothing to be afraid of! If you’re gonna act like that why don’t you walk alone back to the room!”
He continued talking to her in this way for a number of minutes.
The girl looked distraught, shell-shocked, and shaken up.
Being a father of a 16-month-old daughter myself, this incident really tore at my heartstrings.
I wondered: If this guy treats his baby daughter like this *in public*, how much worse does he treat her at home?
I felt like I needed to do something… More on that below. First, a little more context:
Deeper Context: The Mass Traumatization of Children
The event felt like a microcosm of a much vaster sickness plaguing our world.
In our great unconsciousness, we as a species are systematically traumatizing, poisoning, and abusing hundreds of millions of children.
It starts early, through self-mistreatment during pregnancy, circumcision, “sleep training,” bottle-feeding, excessive (forced) vaccinations, sending infants to daycare, and processed “baby food”…
These wounds and mistreatments are then amplified all the more by parents who use violence, fear, force, and emotional abuse to intimidate their children, thereby passing their own unhealed wounds on to the next generation.
Not to mention parents who pass on to their kids their addictions to sedentary entertainment, fast processed food, consumerism, distorted beauty standards, blaming, judging, complaining, holding grudges, ‘keeping score,’ self-inflation, self-victimization, inauthenticity, emotional constipation, self-numbing, self-distraction, ‘performance,’ ‘winning,’ money, sex, booze, (prescription) drugs, trusting the ‘experts,’ keeping up appearances, (social) media, ‘news,’ technology, screens, and so on.
To make matters worse, we also lock hundreds of millions of kids in “school” for 15 years, force them to sit in desks 8+ hours per day, drug the “troublemakers” who resist, and systematically crush each child’s unique genius in favor of churning out the next wave of obedient worker-bees ready to follow the rules, listen to authority, slot into the rat race, and pad the owners’ pockets.
Seeking an educational alternative for your children can get you locked in a jail-cage, as it is *illegal* to freely educate (i.e. “unschool”) your own children in ~90+ countries. Even partially-controlled homeschooling (in accordance with state-approved curricula) is illegal in 30+ countries.
In my view, the mass traumatization, mistreatment, and indoctrination of children is the #1 reason why our civilization is so violent, disconnected, addicted, and (self-)destructive. And I guess the even-deeper reason is the unconsciousness, heart-disconnection, and God-disconnection that drive the behaviors in the first place.
I could write in much greater depth about all this. This is just a glimpse of what we are doing to our children en masse.
(And I’ve said nothing of the most heinous aspects: Millions of children in conditions of literal slavery, child trafficking, starvation, sexual abuse, torture, and so on.)
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a perfect parent. I empathize with the situation of parents in this wild 21st-century supernormal world, because it ain’t easy.
Yet if civilization-wide healing, reconnection, long-term flourishing, and a more beautiful world is what we’re after…
We’ve gotta take a long hard look at what we’re doing to our kids, from the moment of conception. This is absolutely key.
Back to the Story
Anyway, all of that provides some context as to what I was feeling in the moment I saw this man abusing his baby daughter.
In that moment I felt like God / Life was testing me to see if I would do anything about it.
Prior to the incident, I had recently been writing about being honorable and compassionate, especially when that means speaking loving truths that people don’t want to hear.
It felt like God was asking me, “Okay, so are you willing to tell this guy the truth he doesn’t want to hear?”
After a serious internal debate about what to do, I ended up writing a note to the guy. It simply said:
Your daughter doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. She’s just a little one. You frightened her. Be kind to her. Be patient and understanding. Treat her how you’d like to be treated. She’s a sweet little girl. She deserves the best.
I then started walking toward the guy. I felt a lot of fear as I did this. The guy was pretty good sized and seemed like an angry person.
Latent traumas were triggered in my system—old energetic memories of being shoved against lockers or otherwise physically dominated or intimidated by other men. I was afraid the guy might try to kick my ass. I had asked my dad to monitor the situation in case I needed help. Even so, I was scared.
I walked up and said, “Hey brother, I felt a call to give you this.”
He said, “What is it?”
“A note,” I said.
I handed it to him and walked away, back toward my dad.
Shortly after, he jogged up to us. I believe he thought my dad had written the note. He handed the note to my dad and said somewhat gruffly, “You can have your note back sir. I don’t need you to tell me how to raise my daughter. She’s my daughter.”
I then said, “I’m the one who wrote the note.”
He looked at me and said something like, “Oh yeah, you got a daughter?”
“Yes I do,” I replied.
“Where is she?” he asked.
“She’s safe,” I said, not wanting to tell the guy she was nearby in the hotel.
“Oh yeah,” he said, “Well my daughter is here with me.”
“Unfortunately,” my dad interjected, escalating the situation.
The man then became angrier, looked at my dad and said, “Oh yeah, you wake up looking like that every day, buddy?!”
Thankfully the man then turned and walked away, and we walked away as well. I was glad it didn’t come to a physical altercation. The encounter made me ponder on the ~5 jiu jitsu classes I’d taken earlier in the year, and I felt a distinct calling to go deeper into martial arts, so I could feel more calm and confident in future situations like this.
The ancient samurai are said to have trained to be lethal killing machines, yet they considered it a failure if they actually had to draw their swords. The training simply allowed them to confidently enter challenging situations with a level head and act as peacemakers, knowing that if necessary they would be able to defend themselves.
Reflections and Ponderings
I’ve continued to reflect on this situation in the days since…
I’ve wondered whether I could’ve handled it more skillfully.
I’ve wondered if the guy completely dismissed my note, or if perhaps it planted a seed that could blossom into kinder parenting in the future.
I’ve wondered if I ‘should have’ tried to do more — e.g. call Child Protective Services or something.
I’ve wondered if I acted selflessly, or if some parts of me wanted to “be a hero” so I could later self-glorify or look special on the internet or whatever.
I don’t know the answers to these questions.
What I do know is that this was an important moment in my life.
I’m glad I spoke my truth in spite of fear.
I’m glad I did my best to honor my heart in that moment.
I’m glad I tried to do something on behalf of the millions of kids who are powerless in the face of vast unconsciousness.
I believe the truth of the heart has the power to heal our civilization.
The heart knows the way.
Perhaps it is time for those of us connected to the heart, to have the courage to speak and act on its truth.
In everyday situations.
This is not easy. Often it’s damn difficult. I am certainly far from perfect at it.
Yet I am committed to this practice.
I am committed to live the truth of what I am, as best as I can.
And if I were to summarize the truth of what I am…
With one word…
When I feel with my heart…
The truth of what I am…
What we are…
It’s also possible to be a bad parent even with little trauma. For example if you’re working off faulty advice like “leave children cry alone till they stop” then you will be inflicting pain onto your children even with good intentions. Think education and parental skill building is key. You have to pass a test to drive a car. Not so with raising a baby.
Hmm. As hard as it is I think tactical empathy with the guy would have been a better starting point to get him to actually change. He probably carried that angry energy back to his daughter after being confronted.