Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kids and Politics

A month or so ago, I was shopping with my almost-thirteen year old cousin. We were waiting to turn into Target's parking lot when we saw a woman standing in the median with the usual "anything helps, God bless" sign. My cousin looked at me and said "why doesn't that woman just get a job and stop being so lazy?"

I wasn't really sure how to answer. I know my aunt's views lean to the conservative side (although she couldn't tell you what her views really are, and she didn't vote in the 2008 or 2012 elections), but I was still surprised to hear my cousin say that.

I explained to her that we weren't sure what her situation was, so we didn't know if she was lazy. Maybe she lost her job and was worried about feeding her children, or she works third shift and has a sick spouse she needs extra money for. We don't know. Kathryn looked at me, surprised. You could tell she had never thought about it that way.

Of course, that woman could have just been lazy. I don't know. I choose to give people the benefit of the doubt the first time. But if you've ever talked to a homeless person before (not a beggar, a homeless person) you know that the majority of them didn't get there because they were lazy.

My parents never showed their bias when they talked to me about politics. They talked to me about issues a lot (I remember asking a lot of questions when my main man Bill Clinton was in office), but they never directly said "these are the things we believe." I remember one day at school (probably around the 1996 election) someone asked me who my parents were voting for. I said I didn't know, and she goes "I hope it's not Bill Clinton. I hate democrats." I didn't even know what a democrat was, so when I asked my mom about it that night she explained democrats and republicans to me and ended it with "But you should never hate anyone because their political views. Or at all. Hatred is not what we believe in." I guess you could say that by teaching me empathy and how to care about everyone, not just myself, they were laying the groundwork for me being a democrat, but there's obviously a lot more to it than that.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how I would approach politics if we ever have kids. I would hope that I would take an approach like my parents took with me, but I am notoriously more outspoken than either of my parents (and almost anyone else that I know), so I'm not sure how that would go. I can only hope that I teach them to love, and always see the good in the world before they look at the bad. (of course, I'll still love them if they're republicans. they can be anything they want, as long as they're not Duke fans.)

Anyway, I hadn't really given the Kathryn situation much thought until I saw this video someone had posted on Facebook this morning. It's less than five minutes long, so I encourage you to watch it, but if you don't, I'll quickly summarize: this 12 year old thinks the NC Voter ID law that Pat McCrory is trying to pass is some serious crap. 

She's well spoken and articulate, and raises some really good points. Really, she explains her thoughts better than a lot of adults I know (myself included).

The differences between this girl and my cousin really struck me. They're the exact same age - but my cousin will probably never care about something like voter rights. 

How do you foster what this little girl has? I've been interested in politics for as long as I can remember, but I would never have done something like that. She obviously spent a fair amount of time on that speech, and she definitely did her research. So how do we make sure there's more of her (kids who are educated about the issues, not kids who will grow up to be democrats) in the future? 

Instead of teaching kids how to be judgemental, we need to be teaching them to love and care about others and have a passion for doing what's right. Hatred isn't some genetic thing we pass down. We teach that to them. And we need to knock it off. 

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6 comments:

Tracie Everyday said...

good post! I work with kids and see both sets all day. I mostly work with kids who lack the ability to see anothers point of view and don't realzie that there are things outside their par to of the world. Hopefully, with time and people still talking to them, they will learn.

Treasure Tromp said...

love this post, Alyssa! I feel like I have a lot of say about this but am not sure how to articulate it. So for now I'll just share it with everyone :)

brooke lyn said...

Denis Leary might be angry 107% of the time, but he makes valid points and so do you. we need to teach kids to stop being judgement. shoot we need to teach ourselves that

Stevie C said...

North Carolina just seems so backwards these days. I recommend a move to Virginia. Just a thought.

Also, I think that I really like your parents.

voyageofthemeemee said...

I really loved the quote about not hating anyone based on their beliefs. It's something I think about a lot. I actually read a quote the other day that I thought was amazing: "Your beliefs don't make you a good person, your behavior does."

Voyage of the MeeMee

Linda Cassidy said...

wonderful post, its a serious issue and concern, how DO we get out kids interested and vested in what is going on. Maybe your parents have it right, do not impose your views but educate and allow your children to question.

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