I play with my son outside on the day after the election, a gloomy, wet day. I try to focus on his joy as he makes a proper mess of things. I try to find comfort in the knowledge that he is not old enough to understand what happened last night, how an angry, disillusioned group put their sense of entitlement above the rights of others who don’t look or talk or pray the same way they do.
What I think about most are the many conversations he and I will have in the coming years. About his privileged space, the advantages he has because of his skin color, his gender, his educated parents, his citizenship. The many conversations will we have about why this country, the symbol of freedom abd equality around the world, is a place of haves and have nots.
I hope that I am articulate enough, brave enough, to have these conversations. Because he must know that his experience is not the only one, not the common one. He must know that life will be different for his sisters. He must know that his privilege demands that he constantly act with kindness and bravery, that he can and should stand up in defense of the weak and the oppressed.
I worry that these conversations will be hollow. Not because he isn’t empathetic, not because he isn’t capable of recognising and fighting injustice. I worry that they will be hollow because I have not shown him how to fight, how to look out for those who need protection.
Because right now I feel the need to protect my own family, to circle the wagons, to worry about what this election means for them even as I understand that we are among the least vulnerable. And I remember that these feelings are exactly the kind that birthed this movement this anger and resentment against the other.
In the coming years, as he moves from child to teen to man, I pray for the strength, for the courage to voice my opposition to those who would belittle others, the other. I hope to stand vigilant against the marginalization of women, of people of color, of immigrants, of the LGBTQ community, of the undocumented, of religions of all varieties, of atheists, of the poor, and of the weak.
I do not pray for that courage so he won’t have to fight injustice. I cannot currently be that optimistic for the future. I pray for that courage so he will have an example, a model for fighting the injustices he encounters.