My mother answered a magazine ad when she was a young teen, and got two pen pals. One she kept, and they wrote each other for the next 60 years. My mother’s pen pal was named Jutte, and she lived in the Netherlands. During World War II, my mother sent Jutte packages of tinned meat, chocolate and nylon stockings. When she was 76 my mother got a passport. She made a long-dreamed of trip to the British Isles, by herself, and took a side trip to the Netherlands to meet Jutte.
I share this with you because I believe connections between people across international borders are our hope for the world to be the best place it can be. My mother’s life was changed by knowing someone else, somewhere else. She had a greater perspective on the war by knowing her friend’s experience. Perhaps she passed on a greater appreciation of the world outside our borders to her children.
Nowadays, of course, we have the ease of the internet to communicate internationally. We have social media to broaden our range of relationships. Travel between countries is more affordable and common. It seems like everybody in the US is making “family heritage” trips, and college students are encouraged to take semesters “abroad.”
Yesterday at the March for our Lives, my friend found herself taking a photo of a stranger, as often happens. The woman asked Carol to take her photo while she, in front of the crowd of marchers and sign-holders- held out her hands to reveal big brown eyes crocheted into her gloves. I was intrigued and asked her about them.
This gray-haired lady in warm coat and sensible shoes told me that her eye gloves had been knit in Sweden! She had visited the Women’s Democratic Caucus and had been given the gloves to wear to the demonstration. The Swedish crocheter had tucked in a note asking for a photo of the recipient wearing the gloves.
I did a little research (so easy on the magical internet) and found that these eye gloves are an idea from Krista Suh, the originator of the pink pussy hats worn at the Women’s March. It came to her in a dream, an image of millions of people holding their hands-with-eyes up to the sky.
Now, I only saw one pair of eye gloves, so this did not gain the traction that the pink hats did. But I am still so interested that a person in Sweden would care enough about us to crochet and send these funny fingerless gloves to the United States, for someone to wear in a march against gun violence.
I don’t need to tell you how our two countries compare in deaths from gun violence. Wouldn’t it be nice if we learned from examples of countries that have avoided some of the problems with which we struggle? And the image of the eyes? Well, they can tell our legislators that our eyes are on them. But I am also reminded that the eyes of the world are on us.