“Mama? If Trump or Cruz become President, will the world become a dystopian nightmare with a black sky?” (She reads a lot.)
“No, hunny, the sky won’t be black.”
On second thought, with the environmental crisis, the sky may be going black…
“What will we do if Trump or Cruz is elected?” she continued.
I realized my answer — that we would go to organizations like the Maine People’s Alliance, 350 Maine, or the Maine Women’s Lobby who are already doing the work and get involved to fix our broken systems — must be the answer to the question, “What will we do now?”
We also discussed the seductive and incorrect idea that it’s “them” who are the racists; that it’s “them” who are greedy and scary and sometimes evil. We talked about how the overt racism we recognize in the Trump supporters is frightening, of course, but that a well-meaning white person who doesn’t consider themselves racist might deny someone a job because they feel personally that interpersonal relationships with people of color makes them uncomfortable. [We were in a car burning fossil fuels. We shop in stores where people are paid insufficient wages. The list goes on…] We talked about how we should take the overtly ugly and dangerous seriously, but that we shouldn’t use it as a way to imply the rest of us are innocent.
These are big issues to be discussing with a 12.5 and nearly-7 year old. They are necessary subjects of discussion, though. That said, I want my children to live in a world that feels safe and full of joy and hope. Can we have both? Can we expose them to reality, work together with them to make changes in the broken system, while also helping them know they will always be safe?
The solution for me is to involve my children in direct actions to help those organizations who are working on the issues that matter to us (see those I mentioned above, though there are so many!). I will help them stay in hope and optimism in the face of the terrifying realities of our world by showing them that we are not entirely powerless. Much is beyond our control, of course, but one of our realities is that we have a safe home, a loving family, and involvement in incredible wider communities who are all engaged in good work.
Next on my agenda after hitting “publish” on this post is to reach out to those organizations to find out where my daughters and I can actually help.