I have spent way too much time on Facebook this week.
I watched the inauguration and I watched clips of the Women’s March, including some of the 600 sister marches. And after watching and scrolling through hundreds of comments, I washed and dried my hair, put my snow boots on, and went to work. And I asked myself, what am I going to do now?
As a woman, as a wife, as a youth leader in a small church, as a 4-H leader, and as an educator, how does this election affect my day-to-day life? And here’s what I came up with. Here’s what I’m going to do now. I don’t expect my answer to be the same as yours. But in some ways, I really, really hope they’re similar.
I spend a lot of time with elementary, junior high, and high school kids. I observe and create with them in art classes and programs at the gallery where I work. I host Bible studies and lead youth events for my husband’s youth group. I watch them play ball games on weekdays and I drive them to conferences, camps, and college visits on the weekends. These are things I will never, EVER stop doing, because I LOVE spending time with these kids. They are passionate, creative, and eager to learn. It blows my mind how much information they soak up. And how FAST.
I don’t think these kids have any idea how impressionable they are; they have no idea how easily they can be molded into somebody completely different. I have seen kids experience Jesus so closely and have their entire worldview changed in a second. But I have also seen kids become absolute monsters. Vicious, spiteful, nasty.
One second in front of a computer screen.
One minute in front of a television.
One meme on their newsfeed.
I grew up with teachers and pastors telling us how bad porn was. How it only took a second to get addicted. How one look would change your life forever. I honestly believe that lesson actually had the opposite effect than they intended. I wonder how many of my peers would have just left porn alone if our teachers had done the same. I have no room to speculate and I guess we will never know.
But I’m not talking about porn right now.
I’m talking about something that might be even more deadly.
I’m talking about the Trump card kids are playing to excuse absolutely terrible, wicked behavior.
Porn can destroy relationships and poison your perspective of sex, your spouse, your family, the list goes on and on. But if I could have an open platform in front of the parents of the kids I see every week, I wouldn’t talk to them about how to set up firewalls on their computer or how to censor what their kids read or see on TV. In fact, I would try my hardest not to tell them how to be parents; that is not and will never be my job. But what I would humbly suggest to them is that the hateful, vile, and nasty behavior of our president during his election has the potential to destroy the beautiful and creative hearts and minds of their children.
The inauguration was not as hateful as I anticipated, but what terrifies me most is that no matter how Donald Trump plans to clean up the politics in Washington D.C., or even if he can do it, what he can never do is unsay or undo the things he has said and done already. And I can see in the words and actions of the kids I see every week, that has already done more than enough damage to keep my husband and I very busy for quite awhile.
I have seen kids behave in ways I never expected. I have heard words from their mouths I never thought anyone younger than my grandfather would ever say. I have come home at night weeping because I thought that we as human beings had moved past this kind of behavior. But alas, it is not so.
And today, watching the Women’s March, even though most of what I heard sounded positive, confident, and excited for the future, I realized that it didn’t matter how unified or respectful they were, because the kids I see and teach won’t remember the Women’s March, they will remember the election. And that has already started a chain reaction that I know will take a long time to stop. I firmly believe that this chain of hurtful, vicious behavior is going to snowball into an even bigger, frigid, dangerous mess before it finally begins to melt. So what am I going to do now? I’m going to do everything in my power to stop it.
The buck stops here, with me. I’m going to stop it for all the kids in my youth group, my 4-H club, and the art classes at the gallery. And not just for my girls; I’m going to stop it for the boys too. Because someday, my boys are going to want to date and get married and if they use Trump’s behavior as an example for treating women, I firmly believe they too, not just the women they pursue, will be hurt in the end.
I’ll begin with the same method my parents used for me. My parents voted for Trump and they had good reasons. It doesn’t matter what they were and it doesn’t matter whether I agreed with them. What does matter is that my Father sat me down and told me that Trump’s behavior towards women, minorities, and anybody different from him is wrong. That it is vile. That it will tear people apart. I’m 26 years old and I appreciated just hearing him explain that.
So if you’re a parent, an educator, or just someone like me who sees kids a lot, please tell them how good, kind people should treat one another, before they start hurting those around them. Even if ‘ my kid would never do that’ or ‘my students are better than that’. Trust me, they are not untouched by this. Tell them how beautiful the world is when we show love and respect the way we want to receive them. Tell them that bitter, angry words to put somebody else down do not EVER build you up. Tell them that the man in our White House has a lot to prove before he is someone they should look up to.
Or better yet, SHOW THEM.
That’s what I’m going to do now.