These days there are so many ways for us to dismiss a religious, political, racial or economic individual or group as not fitting, in one way or another, and thus not seen as any kind of asset to our lives.
All my life, I’ve heard that children can be so cruel and petty to each other. Still, here we are, during a worldwide pandemic, faced with those same children, now grown into adult bodies, determined to brand individuals or groups as inferior or unworthy of attention, empathy, or even thoughtful consideration, much less admiration.
As I’m writing this, communities across my beloved country are bracing for another night of social unrest and possible destruction and even death. Far too many of us in the fast-shrinking, yet still privileged racial majority, after living through the tumultuous decades between the 1950s of my childhood and now, are still just shaking our heads and tut-tutting about the latest death. We deride the efforts of a growing multi-racial chorus shouting insistently to be heard in defense of those in racial minorities that are regularly dying at the hands of what we ironically call our peace-keepers.
The concept of peace takes on an ominous feeling as a newly murdered citizen lies utterly still in the street, just the latest unarmed and otherwise defenseless casualty of racially prejudiced peace keeping.
So, how might citizens of this country, a so-called advanced civilization, act now and in our future to ensure that our current children don’t grow up to perpetrate, or be trapped, as the victims of similar efforts to maintain a status quo in which 20% of the children in this richest country in the world go to bed malnourished each night?
Millions of children are living lives of monetary impoverishment and if things don’t change, these innocents will grow into adulthood with fewer and fewer positive prospects for growth and fulfillment. Worse, how will their more privileged peers grow up? …comfortable with such poverty in our land of plenty? Unmoved by being privileged while their age peers still struggle to navigate an economic system that offers few opportunities?
What can be done…right now…?
It will be no surprise to my regular readers that ensuring that all children live a life surrounded by terrific books, offering insights into the inequalities and prejudices that have kept things static for decades, can be part of the solution.
Terrific books, discussed with caring adults, casually offer children insights into the lives of people unlike themselves. Compelling stories and fact-rich accounts of early to current American history, especially the last 50 years, could provide a perfect foundation for children to deeply explore and fully understand equality and equity … and the stains that inequality and inequity put on us all, the privileged and the deprived, alike.
It is from those unblinking lessons of the history of America that the future of a new America will be built by the citizens of tomorrow, finally living the promises of our constitutional democracy about which we can currently all merely pretend …or dream.