By Kerri Romeo
“Child of the pure unclouded brow. And dreaming eyes of wonder!”from the Preface to Through the Looking Glass
Alice looked up as her friend, the Canary flew off above the flags that represent the member states (including the United States) and two observer states (including Palestine) of the United Nations with children in tow.
They had spent the day at UNICEF House learning about the history and purpose of UNICEF (originally United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund). Her heart both grows and breaks as she listens to the efforts made by the members of UNICEF and to the stories of children who have been displaced all over the world. Alice puzzles over the contradictions. As an agency that was initially created out of a need to provide children with basic needs lost due to war, she wondered what exactly is the purpose of war? Who is war for? Are the people most affected, often young children, considered? If a child’s eyes are wide open to the wonder of the world, why would war be the image we allow so many to see? What does 10 years of war look like to a child in Syria? Can they still carry the wonder of a child?
Alice wanted to help again, but how? After much consideration, she felt as helpless as she had when she couldn’t reach the key to the door to the garden in Wonderland.
“…and when she had tired herself out with trying, the poor little thing sat down and cried”
Alice in Wonderland, Chapter I
When Alice attempts to find a way to help others she finds herself stuck again. She overthinks the solution. In her speech about creating a sustainable world, Donella Meadows teaches where vision comes from:
“not the intellect; it’s not the mind; it’s not the rational set of skills that we have as human beings. It comes from some other place, which you might call heart or soul or some combination of the two…”
Even if ultimately a heart-based goal, moral motivation is often driven by the mind rather than the heart. We become so overwhelmed by the idea of a monumental action or a major sacrifice that we lose sight of the simple shifts that can make an effective impact. In their Ask Jesse episode about Syria, Jesse Crall and Victoria Hall shared the ways they help bring awareness to and teach us how to discover different perspectives. They always inspire Alice!
Instead of rationalizing and forcing an idea, Alice pauses to be led by her own heart. When the noise of her own thoughts and the “shoulds and should nots” that society has developed within her quiet down she hears the softness of her intuition. And so she continues on her journey into the UNICEF rabbit hole.
“I think that will be the best plan.”Alice in Wonderland, Chapter IV
Kerri spends her days as an office administrator for a ballet barre manufacturer and her free time playing frisbee with her dog in NJ. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.