Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What We Tell Our Children

When Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, I was in the fourth grade.  That night, I cried.  I cried because I liked President Carter, and to my little 9 year old heart I felt bad that Amy Carter would have to move out of the White House.

Tonight, as it moved into the darkest part of morning, it became painfully clear that a Trump presidency was no longer a possibility, but an absolute certainty. As we wait for the Sun to rise and wrestle with the need for sleep, the issue, as I scrolled through my feed for many parents rests in what to tell their children in the morning.  

As a politics obsessed mother of two, I was so eager to get my girls looped into the years election.  But, as the cycle droned on it became a challenge. There were times when the topics were just not age appropriate for my girls.  But, we can't hide it all from them. So eventually they caught wind of the many foibles and flaws of then candidate Donald Trump.  And now we have to face their shining faces in a few hours with an explanation that will equip them with truth and yet not destroy their faith in our country.  

So to the families that are wrestling with this, here are a few ideas to help you shape that important conversation.  

1.  Loosing is hard.  But, that should never stop us from trying again.  We don't give up. In four years, we will get another chance to vote for the President of the United States.  In the meantime, we do our best to be our best.

2.  What is right and what is wrong has not changed.  When someone who is acting badly wins - that does not mean that their behavior was/is right.  Eventually we all reap what we have sown. We need to keep listening to that little voice, our conscience, and act accordingly.  

3.  Adults can be afraid too.  Many Americans yesterday, went and voted for Donald Trump because they are afraid. They fear that we, as a country, have been making mistakes that are hurting us.  So, they voted for what they believe is a better future.  We simply may not agree on how to make our future better.  

4.  People can love this country but not agree with each other.  We are all different in so many ways and our ability to agree should never stop us from working together and respecting each other.

5.  The majority isn't always right.  Between you and me (Mom, Dad) history is rich in examples of the herd mentality gone wrong.  Again, we need to listen to our conscience.  There will be times when we need to stand alone, firmly on what we believe despite the voices that surround us.  This little lesson should be familiar to all of us.  Remember.....if all of your friends were going to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump off too?

6.  Depending on the age of your child, this might also be a good time for a tiny civics lesson - with a focus on citizen participation.  Explain, that they can write letters (send e-mails) to their representatives if they don't like something.  Introduce them to the concept of a petition.  

7.  Remind them that we don't just need good leaders to make this country great. We make this country great, with every kind gesture and act of charity we do. We start by loving and caring for our neighbors and neighborhood.  

Most importantly, they will look to us. They will listen to what we are saying and watch how we react.  Children hear what we say,. But, they focus more intently on what we do and how we do it.  So they will be listening....they will be watching.  And above all, be honest.  Integrity and truthfulness have been such a hot topic during this campaign.  Let them see the truth in you.  Because, when things aren't going your way, it is great to know you can trust your parents.  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Don't Be So Predictable

The myriad of misery that we are confronted with on a daily basis is one very large tangled mess. Every morning before my feet hit the floor, I check my phone and read through all the news tweets that have pushed through to my phone overnight.  And, it has been a long time since I was greeted with good news.  A bit later in the morning I click onto Facebook, and the news gets even worse.  How?  Scrolling through my newsfeed, I see one predictable reaction after the other.  If only the solution to all of this incessant madness were as easy to obtain as your status update was to post.

To know me, is to know that I do enjoy Social Media.  However, the events of the first week of July, this Summer, had me disturbed to the point where words escaped me.  I went silent on Social Media.  And when I finally did post something, it was a picture. Then a day or so later I posted the prayer of St. Francis.  The persistent onslaught of anguish and agony in this world is not something that can be boiled down into a meme. These issues deserve our reflection and serious consideration. It simply drives me insane that we are so flippant, so absolutely glib about issues that seem to have us completely off course.

The world we live in gets smaller and smaller. We learn about international issues as soon as they occur.  On  the evening of July 21,  as my husband and I left NYC, headed to upstate NY, story in Turkey began to unfold.  There were tons of moving pieces and a lot we did not know. As I was the passenger and had the great "fortune" of NYC Friday commuter traffic, I began to look into the issue a bit deeper.  By the time we got to our destination, we had a better handle on what was happening and where it might be headed.  We didn't draw any immediate conclusions.  It would have been easy to be outraged that an army would do this to its leader when he was away.  Given my husbands families history with Turkey, we could have easily cheered them on, hoping for the destruction of Turkey.  But you see Turkey is important for countless reasons. There is nothing simple when it comes to Turkey.

We need to stop and grapple. But we don't.  We are so hell-bent on proving our position right that we fail to dig beyond the surface. I the thrust of Olympic excitement, as I was scrolling through Twitter, I was stupefied, we had managed to politicize an Olympic Event.  Ginny Thrasher, on day one of the Summer Olympics, captured gold in the 10-meter air rifle event.  She not only won the event, she set an Olympic Record.  But, suddenly all of the NRA sympathizers were giddy and propping her up to fortify their gun positions.  Yet, based on her recent interviews  - she believes that the controversy surrounding gun control in our country distract from her sport. Days later Gabby Douglas underwent intense scrutiny for failing to place her hand over heart during the medal ceremony as the U.S National anthem played.  Have we only one lens through which we see the world?

As this election has droned on, I hear one thing that all sides of the aisle agree on...everyone is sick of politics. Yet, everyday I see countless political posts and they seem to grow as we draw closer to November 8. And the sad thing is, half of these posts are riddled with inaccuracies. I don't care if you are "with her" or you want "to make America great again" - take a moment to ensure your posting is accurate.  And don't be so predictable.  If the way you see the world, or your lens hasn't changed in 20 years, you are not a thinker. You are in a rut.