I took my kids to the Women’s march. I didn’t force them, I asked them if they wanted to go. My daughter was a resounding “Heck yes!” – she’s almost 13 and very aware of the current political mess we find ourselves in. My son, who’s 9…well he went…not totally willingly, but mostly because he doesn’t like crowds. He too has been wondering if the adults in this world have gone stark raving mad.
After we left and while enjoying an In and Out burger ( because, ya know, after protesting the utter melt down of our sanity a burger is much needed) My son asked me; “So, Mom, did we do it? Did we get the crazy people out of office and fix everything?” An honest question from a simple guy. And by simple, I don’t mean, dumb, I mean simple, as in, he gets that we should all just get along, chill out and play, that kind of simple.
My answer; “No, not yet, but we will”, and he responded “Well what’s it going to take?” and more importantly he wondered, how does all this affect me? Affect our family, my friends and our life?
Great question. The truth is, for most of us, it doesn’t. We can simply go on, doing what we do without changing anything.
So, I decided to tell him the truth.
And for the first time in my son’s life he heard the words. White/Male Privilege. He’s always understood that we were better off than some, less off than others, but for the most part he always had what he needed and then some, so life was good. His diverse group of friends had the same or so he thought. He was confused as to why everyone was so mad at Mexico (lots of his friends are Mexican) and in his little piece of reality equality and diversity were the norm. On that day he learned, that he was one of the lucky ones.
He heard the story of how our country came to pass, and not the nice ones from his gentrified “his-story” books. But the real story about how humans tend to allow fear and greed to monopolize their hearts and minds and that the idea of us and them is embedded deeply into our culture and it’s going to take a whole lot more than one march to change that.
He learned that, for him, life will always be a bit easier, if things stay the way they are and he learned he has the power to undo centuries of racism, bigotry and fear of the unknown.
“How?” he asked. My answer. By being conscious, by being involved. By never forgetting his kind heart and compassion, no matter how hard we grown-ups try and take it away from him. By learning to know the difference between opinion and fact and most importantly to learn to listen.
There have been multiple studies on Millennials and the generations that follow and one thing has been consistent in many of the studies. Empathy is declining and apathy is rising. It’s hard for me to swallow this considering I pride myself on being a “conscious mom”, but if I’m being truly honest with myself, my kids have grown up privileged and white and although they have been exposed to diversity, they’ve never had to fight for their rights. They’ve never truly suffered. And I thought this was a good thing.
I had hoped that perhaps we were turning a corner, that maybe, just maybe my kids would grow up into a world that had out grown our old paradigm of patriarchy, bigotry and fear mongering.
But, alas, we are in the fight of our lives right now and it’s up to us moms to prepare our kids for battle. Not with guns and knives, but with their hearts and minds.
I think it’s a good thing for them to see what happens when we take things for granted, when we assume the status quo. I think it’s a good thing for them to learn that to choose love is harder than choosing fear and to practice choosing love every day. They need to learn to protest, loud and proud for Love and peace.
Because humans have a lot of growing up to do and it’s our kids who are going to lead the way, as long as we empower them to do so.
Betsy Chasse is a mom of two, an award winning filmmaker (What The Bleep Do We Know?!, Song of the New Earth) and best selling author (Tipping Sacred Cows, It Came Out of My Vagina, Now What?!) She is the editor of Meaningful Mom Magazine A Place for Moms Looking To Create Meaningful and Purposeful Lives for Themselves and Their Children. www.meaningfulmommag.com