Last week, my daughter brought home her version of Time magazine that they use in her classroom. I noticed that there were X marks all over one of the candidate’s faces. I asked her about it and also asked if she had done this. She said, “Of course. I hate him. He’s really bad and he’s not going to help our country at all.” This is just one of the many conversations we’ve had since the election season began. Last year, in first grade, her lunch table had discussions about the various candidates running in the primaries as well.
We don’t watch the news on television much, but we do subscribe to various print and digital magazines. We’ve also had political discussions, especially with our extended families who support candidates very different than the ones we do. I know she’s heard us talk. She’s also heard both candidates speak through tv clips. She’s had discussions with her friends at school and at church. She knows that many children at our church have fears about Trump becoming president. She knows that some of her friends are afraid that they will be deported if he becomes president. She knows that my breath stops for a moment when I see a car with a Trump bumper sticker in the car drop off and pick up line at school.
The fact is that my child is listening and watching. She’s seen and heard this entire country embroiled in hate speech, accusations, overt racism and divisiveness. She’s seen and heard black men being killed by police. She’s seen and heard the assault on women. She’s seen and heard her peers questioning her American-ness. Our rhetoric has been poisoned with great unkindness and divisiveness.
Here is my understatement for this year: Today is a big moment in history.
When we stand in the voting booths, we will decide what our children will continue to see and hear. Will we choose to have the first woman president in our history? Will we choose kindness? Will we choose hate? Will we choose to perpetuate fear? Will we choose to sit on the sidelines? Will we choose to exercise our right to vote? Will we choose for our voices to be heard? Will we choose to continue our civic responsibilities and engage in the community after today?
The birth of our nation came about because we did not want to live in oppression, but rather govern ourselves. We wanted freedom, but only for the privileged. We all started as immigrants, but we quickly forgot that as we settled into our nation. We prided ourselves as a nation who welcomed the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” – so much so that the French once gave us a statue to represent such liberty. It is with the juxtaposition of such deep flaws and great ideals that our nation was created. And today, we have yet another choice before us.
We must remember our beginnings. We must remember our mistakes. We must progress forward. We must do better.
Don’t know where to go vote? Check out this link that will help you find your polling location.