It’s 5 a.m. and I’ve been awake for awhile. I couldn’t sleep. It was impossible to sleep. And I’m typing fast because my children will wake soon and they are going to want answers. I have to think of something to tell them. They are still so little, but children understand more than we realize. I want to put a positive spin on all we learned today.
So I will tell my children that their father and I will protect them, and love them, always. That nothing in their lives has changed. They will still go to school while my husband and I go to work, and then we’ll come home and eat pizza. We’re still hoping to go to Disney World this summer. We’re still together, still a family. My children will still learn about what living a good life really means.
My husband and I are teaching our children to do good in various ways. Each year, before the holidays, we ask them to choose toys to donate to less fortunate children. We participate in food drives at their schools. We give away clothes that they’ve outgrown. They know lying and cheating and stealing are wrong. But that is not enough.
I want to teach them that this concept of service is a powerful one. I want them to know they can change our world through kindness and good deeds. We Americans have been through a grueling election process. We’re all angry and a little bruised. There is so much healing to do.
They are privileged, my children. They are the offspring of a white, middle class, heterosexual, married couple. I will reiterate that with great privilege comes great responsibility. It’s something that bears repeating. We need to take care of each other.
So I will remind my children to be a friend to everyone today, and every day. I will try to model how to accept a loss gracefully. I will teach my children that we cannot always be part of the winning team. We cannot change the outcome of this election. But the election cannot change who we are at our core.
I will remind them to look at people as individuals. The surface differences between the people in our diverse country should not be the cause of fear. They’ll discover that we are all more alike than not. When we disagree, there are ways to do it respectfully. And I hope they can navigate negotiations with those who will not respect us back.
We are prohibited, by our faith and our conscience, to wrong others with our speech. I hope to teach my children to measure their words. I will teach them to how to speak up when they, or someone else, has been wronged. I will teach them that silence in the face of racism or homophobia makes us complicit.
While we cannot change the outcome of an election, we can change ourselves. We set aside our politics for a moment and breathe together. We can reach out a hand to someone with different views, and make a conscious effort to try to understand them, and hope they do the same for us. We can be the change we want to see in the world. We can still repair the damage that’s been done. We can be the good.