While watching the September 11 ceremony at ground zero, on TV, I began to cry. It was so sad, seeing the collective grief, hearing the names of those who had died read aloud, and thinking of the results of September 11 and the many more people dying due to retaliation.

My two and a half-year-old daughter asked, “Mommy, why are you crying?” I told her because many people had died one year ago. Then she asked why these people had died.

I had to ponder this question, and this is what I’ve come up with: The hijackers, who killed so many innocent people, believed they were doing the right thing. Why do some people believe that it is good to kill people who are different?

When a child is born he or she has no values. Children learn their values from their parents and people they are exposed to on a regular basis. I wonder if the parents of these hijackers taught their children that all people have feelings and live their lives with the same emotions that you and I feel, regardless of their race, nationality, gender, or religion. I wonder if these parents ever said: “Value all people, value their uniqueness and open your heart and mind to new ideas and to every person, never prejudging them.”

These men were once children, the same as those we see each day, applying the values that they learned at home to their dealings with the world.

Sadly, due to the actions of these individuals, I’m certain that they weren’t taught to love but to hate. Each generation is another cycle, each bringing more violence because people aren’t strong enough, wise enough or courageous enough to let the past go and allow our children to live in a peaceful world.

Parents shape the world. Parents are more powerful than any politician. We have the power to teach compassion, or to teach vengeance. The future is in the hands of our children, but the values we give them today will determine whether or not they’ll find peace tomorrow.

As a mother, I will use my power wisely. I will give my child the greatest gift of all: the knowledge that all people are equal.

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