The news cycle coming from Charlottesville, Virginia is astonishing. It is maddening, shameful and repugnant.
My visceral reaction to the Neo-Nazi protestors has nothing to do with where my family and I fall along the political spectrum. It is not a matter of freedom of speech or the right to protest. It is not about whom we voted for in the election, the church we frequent, or geographic region in which we live. It does, however, have everything to do with humanity, decency and the legacy in which we are paving for our children. The depictions of Nazi flags being flown high and proud represent the worst of human kind. Period.
My two young boys happened to be watching as I sat dumbfounded in front of the evening news, listening to Lester Holt depict the chaotic scene in an otherwise peaceful town. Like moths to a flame, they looked up and were drawn to the shouting and torches. Their pure innocence could read and see the cruelty. My oldest, at age five, asked why everyone seemed so angry. In that moment, I had a choice. I could either gloss over the issue in order to shield him from the ugliness, or I could enlighten him. It was a split second decision, and I chose the latter.
I chose the latter because his great-grandfathers fought in World War II to end the world of such disgusting ideology. They endured gruesome times in order to silence the evil. Their sacrifice should not and cannot be forgotten.
I chose the latter because we live in a country where bigotry DOES NOT equal patriotism.
I chose the latter because children are not born to hate. They learn through emulation. It is my moral obligation, as a parent, to raise children (in my case white, sons) who will not ever become THAT kind of human.
I chose the latter because in order to #makeamaericagreatagain we must #resist the ideals of a certain few that not everyone is created equal.
I chose the latter because I need for my children to grow up knowing that no matter whom they love, what god they pray to (if any), what color their skin may be, they are to be loved and valued.
I chose the latter because to simply be outraged is not enough.
Our children deserve the conversation. Hate surrounds us everyday. From the bullies of the schoolyard to the extremists of Charlottesville, it is here. What I can hope, however, is the generation we are currently raising will make sure it is not here to stay.
My sons probably won’t have to endure the kind of racism and bigotry that is seemingly running rampant. Their neighbors, friends and classmates might not be so lucky. With that privilege comes the responsibility to stand up to the evil, shout louder than the voices who spew hate, and to be the citizens their great-grandfathers fought hard to protect.
It is important and imperative to emulate the kind of people we want them to be. Neglecting to do so only allows the hate to live on. Little eyes are watching for us to provide an example. Little ears are listening for us to guide them in a meaningful direction.
A mother in Charlottesville must face the world without a daughter because she was killed rallying against the bigotry. If we are looking for acts of bravery, she and her daughter are it. We, as fellow mothers, owe it to her to raise children who will grow up fighting for the same kind of justice. I can only hope and pray they won’t have to fight so hard, or at all.