Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Let's Go All In on Them Instead of Hate

“Half the world hates
What half the world does every day
Half the world waits
While half gets on with it anyway…”

—Rush, Half the World

It was simple, to just have some fun. That's all I wanted us to do that night at soccer practice, including me. I'm the coach, yes, but we needed to play and run around and be a little chaotic. Not hurtful chaotic, just playful chaotic. We raced during dribbling drills. I set up a defensive exercise that turned into a wild scatter-ball chase. Then we scrimmaged and cheered each other on until twilight forced us to wrap it all up, everyone sweaty, tired and full of beaming smiles. It was cathartic for us all, even their parents nervously watching and waiting on the sidelines, wondering what the hell was going to happen next.

The girls didn't talk about it, although one did ask who I voted for. I told her it was a personal decision, and then told her who it was anyway, and she frowned and ran back to play. I never asked for clarity as to why.

Half our world felt marginalized and left behind; half our world feels marginalized and left behind; half our world blames the other. The anger and resentment is real and we've made it okay to hate and hurt again.

Although that's not exactly true, the last part, because the hate and the hurt of scapegoating have never really left us...

Through all the laughter and running around, that's all I could think about during practice, like basking in the sunshine of a clear blue sky 10 feet from a neglected landfill. Regardless of who you voted for in this presidential election, we've again opened an angry wound America has struggled to heal for a long, long time. Too many of us during this campaign accepted bullying behavior and hateful rhetoric, especially from a candidate where half our world went all in on and who is now our national leader.

Sadly, the violent reactions to either side played out before the election and continue to play out now. Hostile acts and protests are rearing their ugly heads across this nation, and even though we're hopers and doers, the Mama and I feel it's only going to get worse before it (hopefully) gets better.

I did try to inject a little levity between us by telling her we read and watch way too many end-of-world stories. She laughed. A little. But we're still worried about what's to come. We admit we feel hoodwinked, gut punched, even assaulted by where our country is now. We don't all have to like where we're at and can voice our opinions about it without violence or hate, because it is still America after all. Half our world tells us that's extreme, that we should get over it, but in all transparency, we won't sit silent for any bullying or violence from either half.

Our girls only gleaned a cursory insight as to what's happened so far and we've done our best to explain what's going on without sharing too much of the violent acts while telling them we'll keep them safe. Thankfully the wisdom and skills we've gained from Kidpower, the global nonprofit leader in personal safety and violence prevention education, have emboldened our empathy, positive strength and safety in our lives.

The founder and executive director of Kidpower, Irene van der Zande, again shared Kidpower's values statement about Inclusion this week (and not a moment too soon):

"We welcome people of any age, culture, religion, race, gender, political belief, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity, marital status, any kind of disability, or level of income who share our commitment to integrity and safety for everyone and who can join us in upholding our values."

The angry wound forever festers, but we have to get on with it now to make a difference. The Mama and I know it's not all rainbows and unicorns and never has been, but we're not pushovers either -- we will protect our family no matter what. We will also wear the safety pins that say, "If you feel that you're in danger, you're safe with us, no matter what." This is is clear tenet of the Kidpower Protection Promise, that we can and should make to the kids and adults in our lives.

This is on us all now. Let’s do what we can to transform our fear of bullying, violence and abuse into a future of lifelong safety and success. Our children are the most precious resource that we have today, so let's go all in on them instead of hate.

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