On this Inauguration weekend, I think back to the many conversations I have had with my children about our American society and democracy. My daughters have asked me numerous questions about the political journey our country has travelled during this past year and, in considering their questions, I have had to engage my mind as well as my heart. In my responses, I have endeavored to see the world through their eyes and explain my insights by visualizing the realities of people I have never been and through experiences I have never lived.
In this contemplation, I realize that few things in life have ever been denied me. The reality of this world sees opportunities abound for a caucasian male born to a loving, two parent, middle class home on the Northeastern coast of the United States. So, how could I possibly explain the reality of others to my children, when I have never been another race or color. I have never been from another culture or raised in another religion. I have never been another gender or orientation. I have never been disabled, destitute, or devoid of hope. I have never had opportunities restricted due to my age, nationality, or status. I have never been persecuted, ostracized, or segregated. I have never known a fractured home, a family divided, or what is to be a child abandoned. I have never been condemned or hated for the simple virtue of being born into this existence.
So, without the wisdom from a diversity of experiences, I answer my children with the guidance that I was fortunate to receive when I was a child. I mentor them to use reason, facts, dignity, empathy, love, and compassion to understand the struggles, beliefs, and perspectives of others. I encourage them to absorb as much knowledge as is available before arriving at an opinion. I counsel them to keep their minds open to include new interactions that may challenge their interpretations and alter their conclusions.
Above all else, I teach my children to embrace people for who WE ALL are - complex, diverse, and amazing human beings.