I have a five year old son. When the Beardocrat and I were thinking of names for the wee one we once called Squirmy we wanted to give him a name that meant something so we chose David (after the Beardocrat's grandfather) and Earl (after my own grandfather). I hoped that as he grew he'd be interested in learning about the men whose names he shares and he'd be inspired to be like them. Strong. Hardworking. Kind. Not afraid to stand up for what is right. Well, yesterday he came home with a 'hilarious' (his word not mine) story from school. At recess apparently some kids started chanting "Build the Wool"(yes, David thought they were saying "wool") to the guys removing the snow. Wasn't that funny?
Take a breath...
So, full disclosure. I hate Donald Trump. I hate everything he is. I hate the way he says whatever he thinks will appeal to the angry and overlooked. I also hate Hillary Clinton. LIKE REALLY HATE her. I think she and the Donald are essentially the same human being pandering to those who agree and vilifying those who don't. So the way that some of my friends felt about the result of the 2016 Presidential Election, I felt that way back at the beginning of 2016 when the two major parties chose Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton as their people. I felt sad. I felt depressed. I felt, "What is happening?" Which is a polite way of saying "WHAT THE HECK???" Which is a polite way of saying something else. In short, I felt without hope. As the election neared it became worse and worse. I felt awful when Donald won, and it would have personally been equally horrifying if Hilary would have won. Then I started hearing about kids at Elementary schools chanting "Build the Wall" while their hispanic classmates cried and I thought, "Who is raising these monsters?"
Then my David came home with his 'hilarious' story and I genuinely thought that I might throw up. It made me that sick. My David, my sweet, quirky, opinionated, wonderful David found the chanting funny. Okay. So he didn't know that they were talking about a wall or what that meant at all. He only knows he likes to chant. Being familiar with the type of children that go to David's school I imagine their parents would be horrified if they knew what their kids were chanting. Immigration legal or otherwise is a nuanced issue and I doubt that any of the children involved understood anything except that they were getting a rise out of their teachers. They weren't monsters, they were just ignorant.
Take a breath...
But is that okay? Is it okay to be ignorant in a world when there are people who are screaming "Build the Wall!!!" and they mean it. Ignorance isn't okay. After my initial revulsion of David's 'hilarious' story I felt hope. I felt opportunity. I felt the chance to be the light in a world that is embracing darkness. I sat down with David and we had a long talk. I told him about the man who would be president for the next four years. I told him very specifically that the Donald's personal character is not something we want to emulate and that some of his professed policies don't align with what I personally believe or the teachings of Christ which we strive to follow. I told David that once to appeal to the masses Donald Trump said he'd build a wall to keep others out. Sure, I dumbed it down, but I feel I got the essential. There are people who are not like us (though, with the Chilean mother, those on the other side of Trump's imagined wall are actually quite like us) and we can choose how to treat those differences. We talked about love. We talked about compassion. We talked about how it feels to be excluded. We talked about bravery and what he should do if he hears any more kids shouting "Build The Wall!" We talked about how one person choosing to stand up for what is right can change the course of history. We talked about the responsibility that we have to be better.
Once upon a time I thought I would be an international lawyer. I wanted to work for corporations. Then I grew a soul, but that is a whole other story. I thought that I would change the world in big, visual, breathtaking ways. When I sat down with David and we talked together about why we love other people and how we can disagree with others and still show love and respect and dignity, I was changing the world in a big and breathtaking way. I don't care who is the President (well, I do, but that isn't my first priority). The state of the world today has given me the unique opportunity to educate my children and encourage them to be better. Not just them, but myself. There is no reason to despair, hang my head, or stop trying just because the candidates our country chose are corrupt, immoral, and self serving. When people give their worst behavior, we MUST give them our best.
Back to David. He is growing up in an interesting time, and I am sure every previous generation felt the same. When David was born I remember singing to him alone in our hospital room that he was a child of God and was sent to earth with a plan. As he grows I see wonderful (and infuriating) traits develop or demonstrate themselves. He is naturally very compassionate and it makes him sad when he sees other people unhappy. He likes being with people and is physically very affectionate. He can be moody, but his most prevalent mood is cheerfulness. His laugh can make anyone want to join in. Best of all, at this point he WANTS to be good. He wants to make good choices. He wants to be kind to others. If I can help keep him on this path, he will surely grow up to honor the men whose names he has been given and instead of building walls, he will be opening his arms and heart to those who most need compassion.