Editor’s Note: The presidential victory of Republican Donald Trump, an upset that surprised the pundits, had many parents openly fretting online about their children’s future this morning. Guest columnist Bill Peebles was one of them, and he offers this insight and strategy.
My 11-year-old sons will be home from school soon. We discussed the presidential election this morning. They seemed a little stunned, but I was glad to see they weren’t frightened. They may come home that way, though.
I imagine different scenarios. What I might say to a kid who asks if everything will be OK; who asks if a president can really deport people or ban a religion? What’ll I say to the other when he asks if Mom will still have a job, or if we are going to have to move somewhere?
I will answer them gracefully, I will say important things like, “Your life shines brighter than all of this. Decency, courage, honor, truth, love never go away, they are steadfast. Things will change, a darkness may descend, but the light of hope cannot be extinguished.”
We will hug in the driveway. I will weep for and with them. I will lift their quivering chins and look them in the eyes and tell them they are safe and cherished. I will apologize for my naivete. I will choke back a sob as I tell them I was wrong, very wrong.
I will watch as they throw a backpack down in disgust at the injustice of it all. I will tell them I understand, that injustice cracks hearts and weighs heavy on the soul. I will tell them to stick up for themselves and advocate for others. I will tell them hope is never lost.
Because no matter what side of this whole thing you are on, you can do this: Volunteer. Find a place you can help and call them, go there. This new administration is going to change things, and it may add more misery to millions of lives.
You can donate food or money, support LGBT causes, make sure children are safe and fed, walk a friend home after dark, embrace the homeless, advocate for others. One thing, even one little thing, could help. Helping others is just that, helping others, but, you see, you are an “other.” You need to give that frightened man, that widowed mother, that shivering child, your warm hands, for they are you. Fuck that “there but for the grace of God go I.” No, it is more like “There goes I.” Shining hope into the broken corners of society shows you your own light.
Do the important things — love, give hope, lift others. Let this not be the end of decency. Let this not be the end of honor. Let this not be the end of courtesy. It’s up to us now, let us not be afraid, let our light shine.
Never relinquish hope.
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The boys came home a few minutes ago. I wait in the driveway as I always do, the bigger boy tosses me his backpack as he often does. The other boy is quiet, as he usually is.
“Hey, Dad, I need to ask you something …”
Here we go, I’m ready. I steel myself, and wait for the scene I practiced all afternoon to begin.
“… what’s for dinner?”
“Oh, and Dad.”
Here it comes.
“I think we are going to start basketball practice next week, the coach’s son is in math with me and he said something about it.”
And they walk into the garage and on into the house.
You see, they didn’t lose hope. They can’t. They are hope. To them it is dinner and practices and friends and difficult math homework and books. It is the good yet to come. They are not innocent and selfish, I don’t mean to say that. No. They are confident and sure in that good yet to come. And, isn’t that hope at its purest? They can’t be distracted away from hope, it is designed into them.
I’ve come a long way from the volunteering thing I mentioned.
Or have I?
The truth is, I am the trembling boy in the driveway, just as sure as I am the homeless, the forgotten, the disenfranchised and broken who have and will need my, your hope.
Remember, we are all each others hope and that hope has a home in the heart. Let it shine. Do not place it under the bushels of fear, cynicism or despair. Let it shine bright in you, from you, aim it toward the others, particularly the children, and see theirs lighting you as well.
About the author
Bill Peebles left a 30-year career in the restaurant business to become a stay-at-home dad to twin boys. He writes a blog, I Hope I Win a Toaster, that makes little sense. He coaches sometimes, volunteers at the schools, plays guitar, and is a damn good homemaker. He believes in hope, dreams, and love … but not computers.