by Chris Jones
“I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.” – Abraham Lincoln (in a letter to Horace Greeley)
Over the past 30 days, our timelines have been flooded with #blacklivesmatter, #bluelivesmatter, #alllivesmatter and many more hashtags denoting activism both proactive and reactive in a climate that seemingly grows more turbulent by the week.
And while people may debate President Trump’s claim to have made Juneteenth famous, I found some level of merit to it (no, he didn’t make it famous, but indirectly he made you recognize it). If you’re honest with yourself, did you know the significance of Juneteenth? Did you know about Black Wall Street? And herein lies the crux of my letter to you this month: stay open.
Wise parents seize every opportunity for learning and teaching. The teacher is of no consequence if you can glean something true and reasonable from what’s being said—hence President Trump in this scenario. Unfortunately, we marry our opinions and tune out anything conflicting or uncomfortable, and for that reason, we are here today. Learning to adapt is what President Lincoln was getting at when he penned his letter to Greenley when he said, “I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”
As parents, our first and foremost job is to lead our families. We’re at a crossroads where it’s an injustice to our children if we fail to educate them about the world beyond our white picket fences. We need to raise kids with higher social IQs. This means not only teaching them our own culture, but fully participating in the cultures of others all year long. Not sure how to approach that? We’ve provided access points in the forms of books and films you can read and watch with your kids on page 13. I’d even take it a step further and bring friends together to watch and discuss the themes found within the movies. Allow your kids to participate, ask questions and share their observation. You might be surprised (and humbled) by what they have to say.
Another simple way is to celebrate cultural holidays and attend worship with your ethnic friends and their kids (this goes both ways). These activities are deeply personal and can boost your understanding and empathy along the way. These experiences will shape you and your kids, and you’ll likely find out we’re not so different after all.
So, let’s turn off the news, stop scrolling through Facebook and have some conversations and experiences in real time. Let’s challenge ourselves to be open not only for ourselves, but for the sake of our children. Then and only the will we go from judging people by the color of skin to the content of character. And as we do, we’ll find like President Lincoln did that we will do less of what hurts, more of what helps, and our views will evolve as we gain new information about and appreciation for other people.