Saturday, August 16, 2014

Thoughts on Parenting: Fighting Inequality

I haven't written in a very long time, for reasons I long to share with you, and hope to soon. As much as I have taken a hiatus from writing, I have also taken a hiatus from near-drowning in the eternal tide of information available to us in this digital age. When the turmoil within begins to match the turmoil without, it's time to rest and heal. And so I have.

I recently read an article (which I highly recommend) by Sarah Bessey  about the events in Ferguson, MO this past week. In her article, she suggests, "If you don't know about Ferguson, it's because you're not paying attention, because your circle of news and information is too small." I agree, my current circle of news and information is too small. And it is on purpose. 

Motherhood has not been easy on me; I adore my children, and I can't believe I've been entrusted the job of growing two miniature human beings into full-sized, participating, accountable adults - but motherhood has not been easy. It's required an entire putting aside of the parts of myself I loved and had figured out, and an intense immersion into every aspect of myself I preferred to deny or was totally unaware of.

So, as I've mucked through the muckiest of me (or at least what I hope is the muckiest), I've also had to turn down some of the noise of the rest of the sludge in the world, for a time - a noise I previously was impassioned and emboldened by. And this reduction in volume has raised many questions: "did I lose my passion?" "am I just not cut out for fighting for social justice anymore?" "have I become too interested in comfort and security for myself, and forgotten others?"

And tonight, as I read through articles and blogs about the events this past week - in Ferguson, in Gaza, in Nigeria, in Ukraine...I realized, no, I haven't lost my passion or stopped fighting for social justice. I'm training some of the next recruits. While I can't protest in Ferguson, and I can't deliver aid in Gaza or Ukraine, and I can't figure out any way to help those girls in Nigeria, I can, and do, invest every ounce of my energy to raising a new generation.

I'm fighting this battle in the check-out line, when the person in front of us is wearing a headscarf and my daughter says "oh mommy, look at her!" and I say, "yes, isn't she beautiful?"

I'm fighting this battle when I teach my children stop to talk to the homeless man on the sidewalk, to introduce themselves with a handshake and ask if he'd like a sandwich, to offer to sit with him while he eats.

I'm fighting this battle when we interact with those with various syndromes or ailments, and I model learning from those we may think we have nothing to learn from.

I'm fighting this battle when the stories come home from school about the kids who have daddies in jail, and we talk honestly about mistakes and learning, and talk even more about inclusion and forgiveness.

I'm fighting this battle, in the unseen arenas, in the most minuscule, easy-to-miss ways. And I will continue.

So, to those on the front lines, to those who are discriminated against because of their skin color, their physical disabilities, their religion, their gender, their sexuality, their education, their language, or their housing status, I promise you this:

I will raise children who see you as equal. I will teach eye color and skin color in the same breath, and with the many breaths following will teach value, sanctity of life, and the prevalence and ubiquity of humanity.

I will raise children who use their bodies for love, not violence, selfish gain, or disrespect. I will teach strength, gentleness, bravery, discernment, and compassion as interconnected pieces of a whole - not points on a spectrum.

I will raise children who see the needs of others, move to meet those needs when possible, and regardless of circumstance remember kindness, respect, and a simple touch of common humanity is healing to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

I will raise children who are grateful, not entitled. But I will also raise children who don't feel ashamed of their white skin color, and who know that just as they don't discriminate against others on any platform, they too can give themselves such grace and not take on the guilt of mistakes from generations past. But instead move forward, equipped with knowledge and compassion.

I promise I'll teach these things every day. And I hope you will too. Because if we're not intentionally teaching these things, they'll pick up the opposite. But our children are ready, I see it in their faces, I see it in the way the play with everyone equally on the playground, I hear it in their voices when they've never asked a single question about "better than" or "more than" (other than who's taller, lost more teeth, or is older).

And if they are ready, it's time we are too. All of us.



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