Snow Sunday: Wet Paint, Locked Banks, & World Peace

Snow Sunday: Wet Paint, Locked Banks, & World Peace


I had this really snarky, hilarious friend in college named Kristin. Kristin was always saying and doing funny things, like trying to open the doors to a bank at night (someday someone’s going to forget to lock them, right?) and putting her hands on freshly painted walls or benches with “Wet Paint” signs to prove that they were actually dry. But one of my favorite Kristin-isms was about wishes.

We were out late one night and saw a shooting star, and we all shut our eyes, drunk and reverent, and made a wish. She raised one eyebrow and asked everyone in turn what they wished for—they were all pretty typical college wishes: boyfriends, summer jobs, cars, passing organic chemistry. Then she smiled smugly and told us her wish: “Don’t worry guys. You’re covered. I wished for world peace.”

It became a running joke, something we smirked about every time someone blew out the candles on a birthday cake or the seeds from a dandelion. All those wasted wishes. The selfishness and complacency of living in a country not ravaged by war, the hypocrisy of our extravagance when people around the world were suffering. That was during the first Gulf War, followed by the Bosnian genocide. The world was not at peace. That was before 9/11, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the Paris attacks. Things are not better today. They’re perhaps worse.

My daughter is 6—too young, I thought, to really be aware of these problems. I was wrong. This year, when she scrawled her Christmas wish list, it wasn’t what I expected. There were a few typical things—a doll, a kitten, a new set of markers—but she also scribbled “world peace.” I was a little in awe, and pleasantly surprised that somehow during her comfortable and happy six years of existence she had realized that there are other people in the world who are not so lucky or fortunate. That at the age of 6 she had a more compassionate global perspective than I had in college on that starry night when Kristin schooled us.

I was also a little sad—the next entry on her list was “survivors.” Survivors? What did she mean by that? She explained that there were a lot of bad people in the world who do bad things, and that she hopes that people survive. I know we’ve had some cautious, sanitized conversations about the attacks in Paris and the refugees fleeing Syria. And that she has probably overheard her father and I talking or caught snippets about global events on NPR. But I had no idea that it had pierced her world, that it had left such an impression on her. wish2JPG

Her wishes made a mark on me. They reminded me of Kristin, and reminded me that there are two ways you can live your life: You can believe that every door, to a bank or an opportunity, is locked and never try to open it. You can believe everything you read, from wet paint sign to propaganda, and never question it. And you can wish only for your own happiness and shut your eyes to the needs of the rest of the world.

Or you can do just the opposite. Try every door. Question every belief. And open your heart to humanity. Maybe someday, if there are enough of us jiggling door handles, questioning the rhetoric, and considering the needs of other human beings, world peace will be a reality – and not just something on a wish list.



  • Clint Viebrock
    Posted at 20:05h, 29 November

    Deb, you continue to amaze me with your writing. This was one of your best. Thanks for the insight.

  • Sandra Cence
    Posted at 08:46h, 02 December

    Beautifully written and expressed! Kudos!!