My daughter tells a lot of stories that involve ants doing things. She just really thinks ants are cool. So yesterday, my wife finally asked her why she likes ants so much. Her response was simply “Ants are little, but when they work together they can lift really big things!” Her explanation made me smile because this is the view we need to have of our communities. We need to understand that although we are one, we are not alone.
Yesterday, millions of Americans participated in protests throughout the country to stand up for women’s rights, and the rights of all groups who fear marginalization under our new president, his cabinet, and congress. My wife and daughter were amongst the protesters, and I am proud of them both for standing up for what they believe in. I am going to try and make this politically charged topic as apolitical as possible. Instead, I will talk about why this is important for our children to see.
Kids are natural protesters. They have no qualms telling you exactly how they feel at any given time. They will protest bedtimes, meals, the color orange, etc. There is no social stigma attached to their views, and nobody to impress. They will just tell you the things they will not stand for. This gets lost on our path to adulthood.
Now I am not advocating that you get out there and protest every small thing you don’t agree with. It’s overall a good thing that sometime during our childhood that most of us learn we cannot fight everything, and the anti-broccoli movement should probably be relegated to our younger years. Selecting our points of outrage is extremely important.
What I am advocating, is not letting them lose that passion entirely. Don’t get into a place of acceptance because “That’s just the way it is…” Teach your kids that with focused energy, and some good old sweat equity, things can change. Sometimes that change is relatively easy, and they can tackle it in ways that don’t involve large scale protesting. Still, every once in a while some issues will be so egregious that you have to get out, rally, and make yourself heard.
Even if you don’t agree with the reason people are protesting, it is important that our kids understand that complacency is not the answer. We do not just accept the narrative and move on with our day to day. This isn’t just relegated to Trump and the current movements. Throughout American history, protests have been paramount to change. The Boston Tea Party, Women’s Sufferage, Selma, etc. are predecessors to turning points in American History. People will tell you that your protests and marches don’t matter, but history tells us otherwise.
Not every battle is worth fighting, and we can’t even win all the ones that are. That being said, I still believe that if something is inherently wrong enough it will change. However, it will not change without people fighting for that change. So teach your kids to stand up for what they believe in, and how to do it in a constructive manner. These causes will come up in every generation, and our kids need to know that they are not powerless, and they don’t have to sit in silence. In fact, sometimes it is their responsibility to do the opposite.