What to Tell My Children About the Election

Oh, snap.

I’m gonna do it.

Y’all had to know I’d have something to say, though. Be honest.

 

I am the mother of two beautiful, spirited girls. They are strong-willed, perceptive, relentless, and outspoken. I love them with my whole heart. I am also the mother of one handsome, compassionate boy. He is smart, loving, mischievous, and kind. I love him with my whole heart. Every decision I make is in consideration of these children. Every challenge I take on, every lick I have to recover from, every triumph I find at the end of the day- these things I do for my children. They are my breath, my life force, and my heart outside of my body. Literal pieces of me.

In case you haven’t gotten it yet, my world is shaped by my children.

I have routinely made commentary on my social media pertaining to world events,the impacts I see for my children, how I have explained things to them, and why I raise my kids like I do. I’m not the average mom, but then, I am not in the business of raising average children. If I have learned anything in the life I have lived, it is that social mores and the calibration of moral compasses based upon them is the fastest way to confuse, dehumanize, and shatter a given human. I watch the disintegration of our speech, our ability to communicate personally, our understanding of privacy, and the concept of integrity and accountability with a deep sorrow. I have recently read commentary about parts of our population voting Trump in rejection of modernity. But if we’re honest, what has modernity really guaranteed our children?

However, this is not a debate, and that is a discussion for another time.

I say those things simply to lend credence to the amount of thought I have put into the future I am trying to give my children and create in my children. And it’s a metric shit ton.

I am a mother.

I am also a woman. I have sisters, nieces, aunts, a mom…surrounded by women. Good, strong, bright, faithful women. One of them- my paternal grandmother- is a Japanese immigrant and the origin of my middle name, Marii. She is proud and dignified.There is not a woman in my acquaintance that I do not respect, not simply because she is a woman, but because she has personal attributes that are admirable. As women, we are female humans, just as men are male humans. We are all humans.

I am also the survivor of sexual assault. It sucks. Truly. And there are deep-seated, unfortunate hurts that have resulted from those incidents. It has taken a great deal of introspection and positive self talk to overcome such wounds. But they are overcome. He was overcome. And I am not that particular label. I sympathize and empathize with those women who also experienced such intolerable cruelty, and I pray for the ones who have not fully recovered or were more intensely affected. However, it is important to remember that the way we identify ourselves binds us to a specificity that is two dimensional. My name is Lydia. Please call me Lydia.

I am also part of the population that does not have a degree. I firmly and resolutely reject and resent the sweeping generalizations made about this population. No, I did not complete my degrees. I had children. I made the decision to dedicate myself to their father (at the time I left the university), to them, and to the domestic peace of our household. But I also made the decision to continue learning in my own way. To study a wide array of topics and mindsets, to apply my critical thinking skills to the myriad events that I have encountered since leaving desks behind.

In the rural area surrounding my house, I have certainly seen quite a bit of ignorance and willful avoidance of opposing view points. But I have also seen good people, skilled in the many forgotten tasks that contribute to the health and wealth of this country, working hard and quietly, happy with their corner of the world. I have been party to a great deal of “Southern hospitality” and “the kindness of strangers” since finding myself a single mother. They may not have a lot to share, but they will share what they have and give aid in the areas they are proficient. The knowledge they have is practical, useful, and adaptable.

I go back to the neighbor into whose yard one of my pear trees had fallen. When I finally got around to walking over to apologize, he came out from his garden, offered me several pounds of fresh produce in light of “all the little ones I have to feed,” and assured me that he didn’t mind at all about the tree. “Do you need any more help cutting it? I had meant to walk over to help, but there’s been more work available than usual, so I haven’t had the time.” He shared some information about killing the stumps and repairing wooden fences, and since has occasionally left bottles of water at the end of his driveway when I have the time to run.

Education is worth its weight in gold, but it does not make a person wise or more valuable as a human. I am a brilliant student, but there are so many more worthwhile studies than the ones I found at the university. And in light of the life lessons I have learned, I would say that I’m more adept to making critical decisions now that I was when I was actively studying classical principles.

I am, finally, a loving person. There is a very, very small number of people on this earth that I cannot love. As a Catholic, I have been raised in a faith that is more loving and peaceful than your fifth grade text books would have you believe. Even the lifestyles or decisions the Church opposes are met with a teaching of kindness- love and respect the dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death, although you oppose the action they may commit. And we mean what we sayI may not agree with you. I may not like what you’re doing. I may even struggle to remain in your presence.

However.

God created each person to be unique from the next. There is not a single copy of any human that has ever walked this earth. You will never meet someone like me. I will never meet someone like you. He created us intentionally, and while we may stray from the true calling of our lives at times, that doesn’t change the inherent worth of any person. I would struggle to condemn another life as forfeit of their human dignity, although I know such occurrences are necessary at times.Generally speaking, though, I will always advocate for the just treatment of another life.

 

Though I am also so much more than these identifies, the above are what I find most necessary to setting the tone for what I’m about to roll out.

Because this is what I will tell me children about this election and President Elect Trump.

 

Absolutely nothing.

 

I know this comes as a shock, given just how much I usually tell my children about world events. They should know about the world they must contribute to as adults, and I want to establish a curiosity that lasts a lifetime. I have seen comments on social media about approaches to take, and I have seen my sister- for whom I have the utmost respect- brilliantly handle the topic of the election with my oldest niece, who is nine. I have read the laments for our daughters and the anguish or fear that some minorities are carrying in their hearts as a result of Trump’s commentary. I can’t tell you how many, “Now I have to tell my precious children x, y, and z, because this monster this and that,” posts I have skimmed. Our country is understandably concerned and divided.

But therein lies the problem.

I have watched the rise of big government in recent years. Our population is handing over its decision making to these figure heads, cracking our skulls open so that pundits can pour in “statistics” and “polls.” I am struggling. Fix it! we are telling our government. And the machines behind them that are profiting and cutting deals with each other are eagerly dishing out assurances and mandates and “new, progressive trains of thought” in exchange for our uniqueness, our money, and our obedience. It’s as if we would much rather elect the soothing voices that are allaying our fears and making promises that sound like they’ll deal with the ugliness we no longer wish to see, than call a spade a spade and get uncomfortable digging up the roots until we can remove it, permanently.

We have political machines funded by Middle Eastern groups who destroy women and brutalize young boys, torture and dismember our servicemen and women, and persecute the Western churches in their lands telling us that we must put an end to misogyny and bigotry. Where is the integrity in that? Because the almighty dollar can’t buy it when the funds are coming from deals with the Devil.

We have a media who race baits for ratings instead of covering the phenomenal communities who are coming together to acknowledge the prejudices and hurts of minority groups in efforts to bridge the gap. The hate so many people are claiming was just elected has been making millions off of your viewership before Trump even announced his bid in the primaries. Yes, there are inequalities and cruelties that are damned travesties in a country like ours. And they should be brought to light and addressed, but in such a way that is fair and unbiased. Not inciting riots that do nothing but damage properties, lives, and communities.

We are all humans. No single one of us worth more than the other. So in acknowledging the plight of minorities that have not been given this right, it is equally as wrong to criminalize a majority group. One small sample cannot accurately reflect a whole. And as humans are imperfect, groups of humans are also imperfect. These judgments and generalities based on voting groups, party lines, education levels, gender and sexual orientation, etc. are every bit as much of the problem as a foul-mouthed billionaire.

The problem, my friends, is not with the President Elect. It is deeply embedded in this country. It is ever-present in our inability to see beyond differences and disagreements. It is driving our fear of things we cannot or will not understand, and it is breeding in our lack of critical thinking and consideration of different perspectives. The problem is feeding on our laziness, our unwillingness to take back our own problems and address them instead of playing damsels in distress, waiting for government knights. And we should be ashamed of ourselves for continuing this fruitless trench warfare in which we are digging ourselves in with groups like us and condemning that which we oppose.

Who could possibly, when elected president, unite such a backwards mindset?

Politicians and feelings about the electoral college aside (because, as I said, this is not a debate), this country is made of people. Its government should be of the people, by the people, for the people.

Why, then, in the name of all that you love, are you looking to the government to resolve this nation’s issue?

Are you or are you not a citizen of this nation? It is every bit as incumbent upon you to be the change you wish to see as it is for our government to represent that change. And if the government does not represent that change, it is still your job to create it. What is right and good and kind in this world does not change based upon who is nominally leading it.

I don’t care for the President Elect and the shameful, hurtful things he has said about minority groups and women; and I vehemently reject Hilary Clinton’s quiet manipulation of this country’s divisiveness, ease in advocating for the dismemberment and removal of preborn children, and abandonment of our military. But one of the two of them was going to come out on top because we’re still so stuck on this two-party system, and the political machines roll like freight trains, that it was too late for America to realize the benefit of a third party. It doesn’t matter at this moment how I voted or how you voted. The matter has been decided.

The 45th President of the United States is Donald Trump. And that is that.

So instead of trying to figure out what to tell my children about what just happened, I will continue to tell them what I have already been telling them. I will tell them to give respect and expect respect. I will tell them to listen in order to learn, because speaking is just announcing what you already know. I will implore them to consider all information that comes before them as opportunities to explore concepts from a different pathway. I will encourage them to evolve their thinking and their character to present the best versions of themselves for contributions to the world in which they live.

Say what you mean, my little ones, and mean what you say.

But more than that, do what you say you are going to do, and accept the consequences for those actions.

Consider carefully your intentions, and be accountable for their repercussions. Make sincere apologies. Show the face of God in acts of kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. Be useful. Let others know what sort you are by testifying with your life. Let them want to drink from the same font you are based on the impression you leave with them.

Learn. Learn from every season of your life, every person with whom you interact, and every failure that you suffer. Remember that what is good will bear good fruit, and crush that which bears bad or poisonous offerings. Walk away from the things that tempt you to be less than you are, and do not allow anyone to make you feel inferior or superior. Do what keeps peace within yourself and your soul, shrugging off judgmentalism.

Advocate for what is good, protect that which cannot protect itself, and remember that it is no one else’s job to speak for you. You speak for you. And in speaking for yourself, remember your inherent worth and dignity. It won’t always feel good, but the most rewarding things comes after the most arduous struggles.

And have faith. Have faith in God. Have faith in man. Because once you spread seeds of dissonance and division, you will find much of what you love falls victim to the chaos, down into the cracks.

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