05 Nov Stop Scaring the Children
The election season is upon us. By this point, everyone has heard enough, and in my town people are swarming the election building for early voting. We can’t wait until November 8th. I think the collective consensus is, “Let’s get this over with already.”
One of my friends posted on Facebook today, “We did it! #vote 2016 #adulting.”
I was 18 years old during the 1992 election, and I remember being very excited about being able to vote. It was my first truly adult assignment, something I’d dreamed about since 1984 when I participated in my first “pretend” election at my elementary school. (That one was a landslide. Go Ronald Reagan!)
While voting might be just for grownups, our kids are taking the election very seriously. What they’re seeing makes me sad. Instead of extolling hero virtues in our world leaders, we’re seeing an utter disregard for social responsibility and kindness to others. And even though we’re watching it play out on TV, I’m also witnessing it at the grocery store and in my neighborhood. Accusations abound on both sides about lying and cheating and improprieties I won’t repeat here. My kids are asking a lot of questions. Believe it or not, they also have their own very outspoken opinions!
Whatever happens on November 8th, it looks like half of the country is going to be raging mad and the other half is going to be dejectedly complacent. So what does that mean for our kids?
I’d like to propose a different response:
It’s a privilege and a responsibility to participate in government.
We didn’t get to this place by accident, so I don’t think we have any right to be angry about the choices in front of us. Instead, I hope we will all make a commitment now to do something to make our little corner of the world a better place to live. Wherever we are, instead of complaining about what is, let’s gather together a group of like-minded people and dream about what could be.
When our kids ask questions about the things they’re seeing or reading about, let’s ask them what they think. How would they respond? What would they do differently? Where can they share their important ideas? How can we help them?
The concept that one person should shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for rebuilding a country or improving education or figuring out the refugee crisis is ludicrous to me. I’ve known too many smart and creative individuals who have innovated solutions to those very problems themselves. On a small scale, they’ve built businesses that matter, invested in their local schools, and made people who are not from here feel loved and welcome.
A few months ago, in a series called Tough as Nails at my church, Andy Stanley says, “Many of you have grown weary and lost heart and the reason is–you have fixed your eyes on a political system… and you need to knock it off and I’ll tell you why–because you are scaring the children!”
Stanley continued, “You need to model for the next generation that God is in control, God can be trusted.”
We’re doing a very bad job modeling for the next generation what’s important, and I’m afraid we’re sending the message that it’s okay to gripe about the current state of things. I think this November is an opportunity to turn whatever is getting you the most riled up this election season into something beautiful and good.
I’m looking forward to the next few years. You know why? Because I’ve always believed that we’re stronger together, and America is already great!
What about you?