Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What I Tell My Kids About Protesting

This has been a month when the kids have raised their voice and the adults have applauded it.  And,
in this country, kids do have a voice, and adults should applaud it.  As for my own kids, perhaps it will come as no surprise that my message to them has been that and a few other things.  I list them here for my own documentation's sake, and perhaps it is also of help to other parents who are wondering how to turn today's news into teaching moments.  So, in no particular order:

1. We have a right in this country to protest, and also to not protest.

2. Usually, there are two or more sides to every argument, and each side has enough merit that it is worth exploring the internal logic and possible good in it, even if we don't agree with it and even if it upsets us.

3. If protest is involved, then you know we're talking not only about rational arguments but also about emotion. Learn where the emotion is coming from. That will help you understand not only the force of the argument about also its internal logic.  (Btw gun control is a pretty good example of this. Gun rights are borne of a very long-standing mistrust of government overstretch into private life, and by "very long-standing" I mean back to the very origin of this nation. Gun control is coming from a place of deep sadness and disgust and helplessness over innocent lives lost in potentially preventable ways. These are profoundly deeply held feelings, and they are a part of the heat around this issue.)

4. It is important to have an opinion on issues that matter. It is important for that opinion to be informed by an abundance of facts and not just what we hear from the people around you. It is important to respect, listen to, and learn from people who share a different opinion.

5. There will be times when your opinion on an issue is not a commonly held one, and you may be called to stand alone in voicing it. Be ready to do so, and do not be afraid to do so. The moment will feel bigger than you, and that's OK. You will know when it is your time, and you will realize you are braver than you think.

There is so much more to say, but that is what I have stuck with this month.  What about you?  What are you telling your kids?

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