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6.29.2012

Political awareness

While I may want the boys to be free to come to their own conclusions about religion and faith, I have no similar hesitation when it comes to politics. I have no problem if all 3 of them grow up with a strong imprint of my views and the need for them to be politically engaged as adults. Tio has discussed political science with me a few times over the issues he's learned at school and while we'll debate all sides, I make it clear why I lean a certain way and create a logical path for him to do the same. 


Just as children need to know that they have to look after their siblings and care about people around them, they need to grow up recognizing that the larger society is no different and they are a part of it. They can't grow up saying 'I hate politics' and then look for student loans, take clean air for granted and turn away from the homeless and needy. At some point in life we all find ourselves in need of help and lean on the blessings of others to get ahead. So we all need to give back in some way.


I believe that teaching the kids about politics is about teaching basic fairness. For example, today the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Healthcare Act to be constitutional so the law will stand as it is. This means than millions of people will be able to get and keep health coverage in this country that otherwise would go without. Strip away all the he said/she said partisanship, that is the nub of this whole issue: fairness for all. Once that is settled we can quibble over the details. 


Teaching fairness to kids is no easy thing to start with but to get them to understand it on a larger scale than the immediate world they inhabit is daunting. So whenever I hear one of them parroting that tired old phrase "politics is stupid" or boring or pointless, it's time for a talk. 


Politics is messy, often counterintuitive, but it is the mechanism by which we run our government and the earlier they understand how it works and why, the better citizens they will become.