When the dust settled on the all-nighter that was the US Presidential election, some were wondering “what should we tell our children about this outcome?”
I have a few ideas, and what I would tell my children, were they not already adults:
- Tell them that this is just an election. It doesn’t signal the end of the world as we know it. It doesn’t mean that things will change dramatically for them anytime soon, if ever.
- Tell them that change, though, is inevitable in some form or fashion, and there would have been change no matter who won the election. Change is where growth happens.
- Tell them that they shouldn’t look to Politicians as role models. They have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers and many others who are much closer to them to draw from.
- While you’re at it, do the same for actors & actresses, musicians, and athletes. If they want to model how they pursue athletics or the arts after the way professionals perform in those roles, that is a great idea. But, just because someone can shoot a basketball, hit a baseball, play a guitar, sing, pretend on screen, etc., doesn’t mean they know anything about how to live their lives, or what TRULY matters.
- Tell them that the news they see on television (or on line for that matter), is largely entertainment. That is why advertising runs on it. The goal for any news agency, whether in print, on line, or on TV, is to get people to tune in, buy the newspaper, or read the website. They will write and say whatever brings the most eyes to their place. The days of objective journalism never really existed. If it did, it died when newspapers started selling advertising on the front page.
- Tell them that anyone who labels a group of people in a pejorative way, for what that group allegedly believes, is a bigot.
- While you are at it on that one, teach them that should the ever run for office, labeling about a quarter of their intended constituency as “deplorable”, is a really bad way to win their votes and support.
- Tell them that 60 million people aren’t all wrong, just like the other 60 million people aren’t all right.
- Tell them that anyone who preaches tolerance at one moment, but cannot tolerate anyone who disagrees with them, wasn’t really all that tolerant to begin with.
- On the subject of tolerance, tell them that they do NOT have to tolerate everything. Teach them that there are moral absolutes in life. Tell them what yours are. If you don’t think you have any, then you are probably a hedonist or nihilist, and don’t care what is in this essay.
- Tell them that they will not always get their way in life, and that doesn’t mean the outcome is unfair. Teach them the difference between disappointment over an outcome, and outrage over an injustice.
- Tell them that a great President once said “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Tell them that those who try to advance positions and ideas by use of fear are manipulating them.
- Tell them that living in a Country that has freedom of speech as one of its most core, guiding principles, means that sometimes people will say things with which they do not agree. Those people are as entitled to their opinion as anyone else.
- Tell them that being a responsible citizen means they have the obligation to be an informed voter. Tell them to look past sound bites, headlines, and sensationalism. Tell them to look to the issues, and where a candidate stands on them to help them make their decision on voting day.
- While you are at it on that one, tell them to beware of “fact checking” articles and websites.Very often those sites are just as flawed as the candidates, and tend to “cherry pick” data to suit their (sometimes unpublished) agenda.
- Tell them that voting for someone solely on their gender is sexism. Always. It is just as wrong to vote for someone solely for the reason that they are a woman or a man, as it is to vote against someone for that reason. Find out what the candidate stands for to make your decision.
- For the one above, insert “race”, “religion”, “sexual orientation”, or any other group label you choose for “gender”. The only thing that will change is which -ism applies.
- Teach them that the form of Government in the United States is not a democracy, it is a Constitutional Republic. If you don’t know the difference, educate yourself.
- Tell them that peaceful protest is a universally accepted form of expression. Tell them that when a protest devolves into rioting and looting, it is no longer acceptable, it is criminal.
But, at the end of it all, tell them that you are human, and you don’t have all the answers. Many times in life things don’t work out the way you had hoped and planned. That is life. It doesn’t mean you should shut down, and throw in the towel. It means you should continue to work hard, and to consider this quote:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.
As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi