"Note: This is a long post. Last night after picking my kids up my 9 year old starts a conversation between her, my 6 year old, and me. The topic? Syria. Yes, Syria. My 9 year started a conversation on Syria. Her 4th grade class is reading about Syria and having a discussion in class about the civil war there. It was amazing listening to the conversation in the back seat. My 6 year old asks what a civil war is and my 9 year explains, using the U.S. civil war as an example. She talked about Abraham Lincoln, and slavery as the big reason for our own civil war. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, state’s rights, sure, but mainly a state’s right to keep slavery legal in the south. Let’s not apologize away the history of the civil war.)
The conversation turned to Syrian refugees fleeing on boats and walking many miles to find new homes. It covered bombings of schools and homes and people, including children, being killed. I interjected a few times with questions such as “Why do you think this happened? How do you think the refugees feel? What do you think we should be doing to help?” We (mainly they) talked in the backseat about how it is important to appreciate what we have and the freedoms we live by.
This was definitely a deep, thought provoking discussion started by my kids. My 9 year understands that bad things are happening, although I don’t think she quite grasps how awful the Syrian civil war is for those directly affected. That will come with time. What she does understand (and my 6 year old) is that everyone should be treated equally with basic human rights. We talked about this, linking it to Syria. The refugees forced to flee their homes have a basic human right to not have their homes bombed, schools bombed, and friends and family killed or injured. Given that’s already happened, they have the basic human right to seek a safe place to live, whether that’s a quality, temporary home somewhere in another country or a permanent home. They have the human right to be happy. They didn’t cause what happened to them and shouldn’t be shunned by others, including the U.S.
I look at the world today and I’m shocked and confused that in 2016 there are so many people fighting AGAINST certain groups of people from having basic human rights. We live in a society in which those with a different skin color are discriminated against when it comes to the quality of education, jobs, finances, etc. We live in a society in which a large portion of the population wants to decide for you who you love and who you should marry. We live in society in which (and I cannot believe this) there are arguments on who has the right to use a public bathroom. A place to pee and poop!!! We live in a society in which those who are not of the majority religion are looked down upon. We live in a society in which women are shamed and it’s deemed appropriate or apologized away when people brag about wanting to assault women. We live in a society in which far too many think quality healthcare is a privilege and not a human right. A large portion of society sees no problem if one’s life is ruined by hundreds of thousands of dollars in health bills, simply because someone gets sick. We live in a society in which an entire political party ignores the SCIENCE of climate change and doesn’t care that millions to billions will have their lives seriously affected (negatively) as a result of doing nothing.
I look at all of this and can’t believe we question basic human rights in 2016. I look at my Facebook feed (yes, I know I should never do this. It’s like reading the comments section on any online article!) and see post after post after post arguing against human rights from family, friends, and acquaintances. I see posts arguing that we shouldn’t help Syrian refugees because they need to fix their own problems. I see posts arguing that people here in the U.S. who get sick should fend for themselves and “pull themselves up by their boot straps”. I see post after post after post apologizing away comments on sexual assault against women (I don’t see nearly as many, but sexual assault from women on men is just as awful). I see post after post after post arguing that minorities in this country struggle as the result of their own doing. I see all of this and it’s tough to have any hope for the human species.
But then I listen to my daughters discussing serious issues in the backseat of my car and there’s where my hope lies. Where my grandparents and parents’ generation has failed and where my generation has failed, I have hope that my kids’ generation will overcome these failures and succeed in demanding and receiving truly equal rights for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, country of origin, sex, etc. My kids get it. Other kids their age get it. I look at them and can only imagine how they’ll react when they are older and see that people actually fought against the basic human rights of others. My hope for the future and success of humankind lies in my kids and their generation."
My kids amaze me every day!