If you are in the US, and even worse, in a battleground state, you know that the election coverage, ads, and rhetoric are inescapable. Unfortunately, some of that rhetoric is not appropriate even for my 14 year old to hear.
But he is in high school, and I know he hears about this stuff at school, too. My challenge is to explain to him what’s going on.
I’ve explained recently that I’m a political being. I can’t escape it. I’ve always been interested in social justice, and politically active, even taking the young kiddo canvassing in 2008, when he was just six years old. I also take him with me when I go to vote. It’s an important part of being a US citizen, and I want him to understand that.
I also want him to understand why The Man and I speak about the candidates the way we do, and why we feel the way we feel. It’s harder because I know we are in the minority in our county. In fact, there will probably be very few kids at his school who speak about our candidate with any respect.
And as I explain to The Boy about the importance of being respectful of others’ views, I hesitate. I understand many of the complexities in this cycle, but The Boy does not, and truthfully very few high school students probably do either. Much of what he hears at school will be parroted from what is discussed at dinner tables.
He does not need to respect the view that woman, minorities, immigrants, and the disabled are less-than. He does not need to respect the view that making unwanted advances or physical contact with a girl is just something boys do. In fact, those are things that I am actively teaching him are wrong and dangerous.
So, in these justifiably divisive times, what do I say? I say that it all comes down to being nice. We choose not to support the candidate who says mean things about people. Because that’s not nice. We start there, and work our way to the other stuff. The other stuff that I shouldn’t have to explain to my kid , but now have to because an adult on the national stage, nominated for the most powerful position in the free world modeled incorrectly.
Women, minorities, and disabled people should not be regarded as “more than” either. We’re all human beings and we’re all equal. That means we, if able, all need to:
-Respect each others’ differences in ideologies as long as they are not dangerous to one’s self or others
-Think critically and make informed judgments to form opinions
-Contribute to the lives of others around us
-Work for what we have (beyond basic human rights)
-Act for the good of others around us
-Have a logically consistent system for morality