I’m having a parental moral crisis: I can’t teach my kid to confront every injustice he sees. There are too many of them. How do we teach kids to not become passive when there is injustice to be found pretty much everywhere?
“Passivity is the same as defending injustice.” – Deepak Chopra
I want to heroically proclaim that I will peel back every curtain, explain all truths (especially the tough ones), and be a parent who encourages my kid to speak up whenever he sees something wrong.
But I avoid the aisle with the lobster tanks at the grocery store. We pass by dead wild animals that have been run over in the street and we don’t mention it (yet). We accept WalMart gifts from well-meaning relatives on special occasions that are most certainly from sweatshops and say “thank you”. The college fund we set up is probably gaining interest from BP. And another toddler gave cheddar goldfish crackers to my kid when I turned around for a minute, and I just congratulated the sharing effort.
“In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice.” – Charles Dickens
My son may have friends who eat meat and dairy at school. Unfortunately, he will see kids keep fish in small tanks and bowls. I could go on and reach far into the social issues of our time, but I have come to the conclusion lately that we need to teach our kid (and the kids we encounter in the classroom as teachers) to think critically, be brave, and act wisely. Just as his parents have done, he will need to be inspired by specific causes at certain times of his life and act. He can’t chase down every injustice he sees and personally stop it, although this may be possible on occasion!
We can raise a smart activist, who can raise a little hell, and maybe bring some much-needed change in both of our lifetimes.
So I conclude with this third quote, which will help me focus my parental message about activism:
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” – Elie Wiesel
Photo credit: John W. Iwanski via Flickr