My pensive 8-year-old looks up from the breakfast table while I’m pouring my coffee.
“Mom, is today the day that Donald Trump becomes president? What exactly is going to happen to us? What will change for us?”
First thought: Dang, I needed some coffee before this conversation.
Second thought: Will anything change for her, this bright, analytical girl?
I think about her school, the wonderful teachers there and the almost over-the-top school spirit.
I think about our precious middle-class neighborhood and all the working parents and the stay-at-home parents and how we invest in fostering a small community in a big city and how we work even harder to raise decent, kind children, no matter our political affiliation.
And, barring some unpredictable event, this won’t change for us. For better or worse, we are insulated to a degree by a combination of middle-class income and light skin color and even worshiping with the dominant faith of our culture here.
But that’s the thing about America, isn’t it? We are just one tiny thread of it.
So, speaking slowly:
“Well, honey, I don’t think anything in our day-to-day life will change. You will be fine.
But WE may need to change a little bit. We may need to look out more for other people who don’t talk or look or believe in Jesus like us. We may need to speak up more if we see something that’s not fair.
Here is the thing: Our country is awesome. It’s based on freedom and fairness – which I know for a fact are two things you love. America says you can believe anything you want to believe and be who you want to be, and still be treated fairly by the laws and government.
It’s really easy to treat people fairly when they look similar to you, and mostly like the things you like, and mostly believe in the things you believe in, isn’t it? So, honestly, our family kind of has it easy because we have a lot in common with most people in charge. For the most part, we pretty much get treated fairly.
BUT the harder part is that this country is for EVERYBODY in it. Even people who are totally different, or who don’t agree with you, or who may not even like you. Even people who tell you God is not real and you are totally wrong for believing in him. They have the same right to live here and should have the same fairness we do.
So we have to make sure we look out for people who are different than us. We have to make sure that girls and women aren’t treated differently just because they are girls and women, and that people know we are not here to sit around and look pretty.
Donald Trump made me worried about these things by the way he acted before he was elected. But he hasn’t done them as president, so when he starts today, we will give him a chance for a fresh start. We will give him a chance to be reasonable.
But what will change -for mom and dad and hopefully some other grownups- is that we will have to speak up more if we see something unfair, or if we feel like people are getting bullied or treated poorly, both in our big country and in our small neighborhood.
We have to be less afraid to use our voice – which, really, isn’t a bad thing at all.”
So, friends, I share this with you in the spirit of democracy and common ground – and with the growing realization that we are the grown-ups now. We are the ones in charge, and the power for fairness and kindness starts in your kitchen, with your own family, with coffee cup in hand…and your voice and actions carry out from there much further than you know.
Today, I take my own oath to use that power well.