How does one explain the unexplainable when confronted with the candid gaze of a child? Translucent inquisitive eyes, trying to make sense of the world around them and looking to you – their ultimate reference point, the all-knowing infallible adult – for answers.
Why? The question is asked. You fumble around in the dark, coming to the realization that it is a good question. The question. Not wanting to fall from your omnipotent pedestal you come up with a hazy answer. Silence. A frown on your child’s face. Your words are being untangled and their particular vibration engraved. They become the blueprint that will henceforth explain the unexplainable.
It is in the fold of these questions, and particularly of how one raises a child in a conflict, that the journey of Lullaby of Tomorrow started. Sonja Schenkel embarked upon a series of trips to Jerusalem and the West Bank that would become much more than the making of a film, and pave the way for a new form of activism, beyond words and mental concepts into the realm of pure, authentic, raw sound: Hope Activism.
It is 2011. Israel and Palestine. Five women and their children. A simple question: How do you explain to your child what is going on? What words do you use to shape the perspectives, hopes and wishes of the generation to come?
Each of the mothers reads a letter written to their children in answer to that question. A letter that will become a film. And as we gently weave our way through their lives, their homes, their deep love and sincere wish for a brighter future, the harsh complexities of the situation become apparent. They carry the legacy of generations of mothers before them, each having sung her own lullaby, as she laid down the beliefs and hopes of today.
In one living room, three children play an improvised game of “checkpoint” amidst rows of chairs passing off as a wall. They take turns to embody a soldier with his machine gun, and a citizen who wishes to pass from one side to the other.
We become a witness to the lives of these women as they grapple with the questions that their children will one day have to answer for themselves.
The film ends.
No matter who we are, no matter where we live, what remains? What do we feel?
And that is where Sonja offers us another option. Not a discourse. Not an endless analysis of the multiple facets of the conflict. Not an intellectual treatise of what hope is and could be.
An invitation to close our eyes. Feel within for that elusive sentiment called “hope”. Find its spark. Kindle its flame. Until it becomes strong enough for a sound to be born.
And when it stirs to life, give that sound a voice. The breath of life. The permission to exist. The power to radiate out into the world. A simple sound connecting us all. In our humanity. In our love. In our hope.
A new lullaby is born.
The sound of hope.
Try it out: Lullaby of Tomorrow.