What We Are Telling Our Kids

For parents in my peer group, “how am I going to explain this election to my kids” is a hot topic.  So here’s the ground Amy and I have used this week’s news to cover, which reflects both our personal opinions as well as our desire for them to draw from a diversity of viewpoints to form their own opinions:

1. We have a very diverse country in terms of perspectives, needs, and preferences, and different candidates appeal to different groups for different reasons.  You may look at a candidate and determine that that candidate is absolutely better or worse than the alternative, but others may come to a different conclusion, and that different conclusion need not be borne of ignorance or evil.

2. Our family is a well-educated and relatively affluent family from a big city on the East Coast, and our worldview is informed by those characteristics. But much of America is not like us, and so it is only natural for their worldview, having been informed by different characteristics, to be different from ours.  It is hard but not impossible to get out of our own bubble of the people we interact with and the media we consume, to hear about and learn from other vantage points, and in the spirit of keeping an open mind we should make sure we do.

3. Globalization, automation, and innovation have created incredible gains for humanity as a whole.  But that doesn’t mean that the distribution of those gains is even.  In fact there are many groups (even in as rich and free a nation as ours) who have not only not gained as much as we have but have actually lost.  Whether or not they are right to feel aggrieved, they feel aggrieved, and we ought to be sympathetic to that.

4. A lot of people are going to be distraught, upset, and outraged at the election results.  It is OK to feel these things, and if others feel these things you should be accommodating of them and not tell them to "get over it" if they are not ready to.  Maybe by listening to them you will better understand where they are coming from and maybe even realize that you should also be distraught, upset, and outraged.

5. Some people are for Trump, and while they may be happy with the election results, they may not feel they will be accepted by others if they knew.  You should demonstrate that you accept them, and that they are allowed to be who they are when they are with you.

6. Sometimes in life we don’t win and things aren't fair.  We still have to get up the next day and go to school and work and do our best.

7. Protecting the most vulnerable among us is a role of government, but it is also a role for individuals, households, and churches.  Whoever wins and whatever policies they advocate, it is incumbent on all of us together to play our part.

8. We are a nation of checks and balances.  The president is not a king or a dictator.  Other elections and appointments matter.  And, the most important accountability mechanism is we the people.

9. Donald Trump is potentially a uniquely dangerous president, based on his temperament, his words, and his choices. Temperament, words, and choices matter, whether you are president or anyone else, but being president means the possibility of doing great good or great harm.  So we should worry and we should watch.

10. God is in control.  We are not in control and we may not like who is in control and we may dread what is next.  But God holds past, present, and future in His good hands.  We can look to Him and find both peace to accept what is and power to help make what it should be.
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