+
A letter to the mother huddled with her children in the basement in a war zone
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

The mothers of the world stand in solidarity with those who are trying to protect their children from war.

Dear mother huddled with her children in the basement in a war zone,

As I sit in my living room reading reports from Ukraine, my thoughts scatter to many places at once. The analytical part of me wants to understand the historical and geopolitical forces that led up to this moment. The middle-aged side of me remembers with visceral tension the nuclear threats of the Cold War era. The American in me ponders what my country's leadership should, can and will do under the circumstances.

But the mother in me—the raw, human heart of me—goes straight to you and your children.


As you sit huddled together in a basement or a subway or perhaps a leftover bomb shelter from another generation's war, my 13-year-old son cuddles close to me on the couch. He looks at me with wide, worried eyes and asks what we would do if we were in your shoes. He's barely old enough to know the truth, but I tell him anyway: I don't know.I honestly don't know.

I know that our children look to us for safety, security and reassurance, so I try to imagine what you must be telling your young children as they hear air raid sirens, explosions, gunfire from above.

"You're OK. We're safe here," you tell them, not knowing if it's true. "It's going to be OK."

You lie to your children because you don't know what else to do. You're scared, but you don't want them to see it. If you can't protect them from the violence on their doorstep, you will shield them as much as you can from fear and despair. You—your body, your presence—are their primary shelter and safe place, so you wrap your arms around your babies, knowing full well that your flesh is powerless against weapons of war. You know you would die for them. You worry that won't be enough.

I am keenly aware that only the happenstance of my birthplace allows me to sit safely in my living room while you hide from violence. Whether you and your children are huddled in Ukraine or Yemen or Ethiopia or another war-torn region, geography is the only real difference between us. I didn't choose any of this and neither did you.

None of us wants this for our children. None of us ever has.

War is hell, and women and children beat the brunt of it. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity." I've always appreciated his blunt honesty, but I think mothers might hate war more than soldiers. Soldiers are at least trained for the brutality, if not the futility or stupidity. There is no training that can prepare a mother to nurture her children in the violence and chaos of a war zone.

I think back over human history. How many mothers have witnessed the maiming of their children, physically or psychologically, by war? I look into my sweet son's eyes and my heart breaks, knowing not just that he could be hurt or killed, but also knowing that corrupt men with power would eagerly turn him into a killer to satisfy their need for conquest.

Too many mothers have sent their children off to fight in fruitless wars. Too many of those children haven't come back or have come back broken beyond repair. Too many mothers are hiding in basements with their babies in too many places, trying to keep their children's world from falling apart. Too many, too many, too many.

No one truly wins in war, no matter the political outcome, and it's beyond frustrating that humanity has not yet learned that armed conflict causes more problems than it solves. I've often wondered why don't we force the leaders who want to wage war into a boxing ring to duke it out among themselves. It makes no less sense than sending thousands of their people to fight to the death and destroy valuable infrastructure and architecture while they're at it.

I'm so tired of madmen playing violent games with people's lives because they can't figure out how to fill their soul holes. I'm so tired of their attempts to make us enemies, when all that separates us are invisible lines imagined into existence by insecure men. I'm so tired of fallen soldiers being hailed as heroes by those who sent them into battle to be sacrificed as pawns.

Imagine if moms were at the helm instead. Moms who understand that brute force is both immature and unnecessary. Moms who see all the world's children as our own. Imagine that world, just for a moment. What a vast difference that would make.

But here we are in this moment, and all I can do is offer you my solidarity. I hate that you and your children have to go through this stupid and wasteful and tragic and maddening mess that you didn't choose to partake in. I wish I could wave a wand and whisk us into a future where war is obsolete and unthinkable, where we truly accept that we are one human family and where we've chosen as a collective to create real and lasting peace. I have to believe that we'll get there eventually.

In the meantime, you are not forgotten, wherever you are. I am not in your shoes, but please know that I and millions of mothers around the world are wrapping our arms around you and your children, praying desperately for an end to the violence and trauma.

Your children—all of our children—deserve so much better than this.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”

@rocketjump

Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say

TikTok

Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.

TikTok

yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5

TikTok

One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”