How do you talk about the US election with your children when you’re struggling with your own shock, confusion and fear? By embracing love, says Jared Dennis, and trying harder to be the change you want to see in the world.
“At least I don’t have kids.”
That has been the one thought I keep going back to when thinking about the American election result. But then I keep following that up with “but what about the parents who do?” and “what about their kids?”
So as a single, childless, middle-aged man I just have to say “please don’t give up”.
Yes, this vote shows there is a lot of hate and dissatisfaction in the world, but on my Facebook, amongst my friends and in New Zealand in general, the overriding mood seems to be one of absolute shock and repulsion. Which is good, right? At least we aren’t just all bending over and taking it with a casual “well that is what the majority want, so I guess it is a good idea”.
Let’s use this for the positive. There are obviously plenty of others out there who think in a similar way to you, and that is much better than being the only one who thinks voting in a sexist, racist, corrupt misogynist is a bad move for humanity. Imagine being that person: “Seriously, every other human thinks a dude who spurts hatred out of every pore is best choice for leader of the free world?”. Now that truly would be a reason to give up, if you were the only one. But you’re not.
So, although this vote seems to put in the minority those who prioritise equality, tolerance and unity, judging by my newsfeed it is a strong minority who are not going to let the Trump presidency happen without making their voices heard. The shock and disgust is coming through loud and clear, and that’s the positive takeaway. That is the reason to not give up.
We need to ask why and how. We need to keep challenging those we know who support Trump “How can you support such an evil man?”, and when they respond with the classic “best of two evils” bullshit, we have to keep asking “so let’s compare these two evils”, because from all I have read and observed Trump’s evils outweigh Clinton’s 100 to 1.
And when the furore dies down we must all continue to keep doing the things we do to make the world a better place. And keep doing them better.
As I said earlier, I am a single guy with no kids, so I’m not in any position to tell you what to say to your children at this time, because I really don’t think there is one right thing, and I definitely don’t know what it is. But you can’t give up. You can’t let this “majority” decision make you think “fuck it, if that is what everyone thinks then I guess it’s not that bad if my kid thinks the same way too”.
This is the time to seize the opportunity and make sure children know this hatred is not okay. It is the time to explain that we don’t all share the same opinions and morals as those who elected Trump. It is education, or lack of, that has bred the ignorance that has led so many Americans to make such a warped decision about their future and the future of humanity. With an income and inequality gap that is likely to widen, and tolerance of minorities reducing at a rate of knots, many of these people have shot themselves in the foot by following empty slogans like “make America great again” and “build a wall”. University-educated Americans with the best job prospects didn’t vote for Trump, yet the risk to them is minimal compared to the low income earners who did.
For me this is when the clichés (otherwise known as famous quotations) come in:
Nelson Mandela said “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” And now is such a dangerous time to be learning to hate, with so much division and strong emotion everywhere. So please teach your children we don’t have to hate anyone. We may have different opinions and beliefs but it is not something that is genetic. You can choose to love not hate.
Then there is Ghandi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world”, which couldn’t ring more true at this moment. Now is the time to do things better than ever before. Encourage your kids (and yourself) to engage in more acts of random kindness, to be kinder to those less fortunate, to make more effort to not let the small things bother you, to be a better person. Because you are the number one role model for your children and at the moment the world needs as many good role models as it can get.
And on a similar note, from the Dalai Lama: “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves”. Yes the shit happening in the US is going to cause long term harm to society in general, but what you do for yourself and your family is still going to be what makes the biggest difference. Please keep trying to be the best parent and the best person you can be and please don’t give up.
After writing this I am now thinking maybe I do need to get myself a few kids. With all this preaching and positivity I’ve got to share, I need some young and impressionable minds to shape. Maybe I am not so glad I haven’t got kids. Maybe, just maybe, this whole thing could have an upside.
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