Nearly 7 years ago, my husband and I went to a Parisian bar with friends on a Thursday night. The following evening, as we lay on our couch recovering, that same bar was one of the targets in a series of coordinated attacks by gunmen, in which 130 people lost their lives.
My nephew, Leo, had recently turned one, and I thought about how my sister would have explained this to him had it happened the previous night.
I realized that today’s children may have to learn how to digest the growing violence our species perpetuates, but that equally, they could be empowered to become the first generation who learns how to replace war with peace.
That night, I wrote this book in an attempt to explain the world as I see it in a way that might be understood by children and adults alike.
I wrote it for Leo, and for the generations of children to follow, in hopes that if we can harness the Love children so freely emit, and help them to protect that benevolence throughout their lives, perhaps their future will be kinder, fairer, more unified and peaceful than our current times.
The book is printed by one of Europe’s few cradle-to-cradle printers in the most eco-friendly manner available and was illustrated by the talented Caroline Winneguth of Salt Water and Feathers.
You can read the full story below:
The Lion knew Leo before he was here. When they were lights in the sky beaming big, bright, and clear.
The Lion arrived long before little Leo and had learned all he could about wisdom and ego.
He was eager to share all he’d gathered and seen, on living and loving in a way that had meaning.
But first Leo needed to grow, feed and learn, as many lessons arrive soon after you’re born. So the Lion, he waited and watched, and enjoyed, as his human friend grew from a small baby to a little boy.
Then one day to the Lion’s surprise, the boy named Leo looked right in his eyes, and asked him a question needing an answer so big, it took the Lion some time to reflect on and think.
“What is Love?”, Leo asked, with a sparkle in his eye, and the Lion felt so joyful he nearly started to cry.
“Love”, said the Lion, with a voice soft and deep, “is the most important and beautiful of all the feelings”.
“It’s a word which transcends every race, gender, and language, that can cure any hurt without so much as a bandage.
It’s a magical thing made to nourish and share, as it shows the whole world how much your heart and soul can care”.
“It is meant to be shared with every living thing, from the animals and plants, to each human being”.
“But what if we don’t?”, Leo whispered with worry, and his eyes filled with tears making his vision all blurry.
The Lion hugged Leo and slowly explained, how the planet they live on creates most of its pain: “If we don’t Love the animals, the animals get hurt. If we don’t Love the trees, they fall to the dirt”.
“If we don’t Love each human, we have war, not peace, which makes the world run like it’s sick with disease.
We need all living things to coexist and be balanced, which is why we must choose Love, even when it is challenged”.
“I will Love them!”, said Leo, and he finally smiled, hugging the Lion, a tree, and another small child. As he laughed and he played, he promised to always remember, the lessons from the Lion on that day in November.