Pond Ripples

I started the weekend out making my father’s famous Super Bowl chili, and cooking it always makes me thoughtful. I spent so many Sundays at my childhood home while dad sat in the kitchen watching football and cooking. Sometimes it was other sports, and there were plenty of dishes he cooked like fried chicken and rib roast, but it always took him all day and several glasses of wine. The doors to the kitchen would be closed, although I was welcome, and he would have his time to himself just cooking, and watching and thinking, I suspect. He was a thinker, like me.

Times were simpler then, of course, political candidates were not quite as divisive. But he was an optimist, and I can’t help but wonder what he would be doing in this climate. This is a man who worked for the Freedom Schools where they taught non violent resistance to those brave enough to ride the busses down to the south in protest of segregation. I was always proud of this part of his history since he grew up in Texas and could have gone a very different way in his beliefs. I’d like to think I would have taken part in this as well, although I do note that he did not actually ride the busses. I never asked him why, but my suspicion is his education took precedence and thus missing class for weeks would not be his choice. But there is a choice a white man gets to make. Not protesting wouldn’t hurt him, he was one of the power holders.

When we think about what’s happening now, there is a much wider variety of people who have to choose what to do. And more people directly affected. Most wealthy white men are safe, unless they are married to an affected party, but women, children, non-white skin tone people of all ages and races, hard working blue collar people dependent on government health care, poor people who can’t get a leg up? The list is almost endless of those who do have to choose right now; do they resist or keep their head down? Is she a single mom of 3 who can’t go protest because who would take care of the children if she got arrested? Is he the father of several children who are US citizens by birth, but who has only a green card for himself? Are they black women and men who are judged as violent for any type of protest before they even get to start? How do they make this impossible choice? And how can they not do something?

Maybe all you can do is teach your children. Like a drop of water, if most of the children of this country learn tolerance, kindness, and how to give to others, they would spread through this world like ripples in the pond. It’s a slow process but it works. Tolerance can go viral. Love can go viral. Persistance and resistance in the face of discrimination and hate can go viral. I know it’s worrisome to let your children know exactly what is going on in the world right now, but they can feel it. The evil they are imagining may be far worse than what is actually happening. My kids come home telling me things other children are saying at school, so I know rumors are flying among them. It would be better for them to hear from people they trust that they will be ok, that the adults are fighting for their future and will be by their side.

The day after the election I stopped several groups of students at the elementary school spreading horror stories on the playground and just told them “you are safe, we will be ok, the grown ups will take care of you, you will be ok.” It was important to soothe them while so many adults were upset. But we have had time to calm down. We have had time to decide how we are going to resist. Now is the time to talk to the children. Teach them about how you wish people would treat each other. Tell them about your fantasy of the future where all are included, cared for, welcomed. They will work within their small world as a child, and then spread this message wherever they go as adults. It is a quiet and slow revolution, but it is powerful. Lets get this virus going.

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