To My Kids Upon Being Eligible To Vote In 2024,
You are 7 and 9-years-old these days. We just left a movie theatre in the middle of a Tuesday since there is no school today. Today was not a snow day. It’s Election Day in the red state of Tennessee.
We all three held hands today and crossed the street to cast a vote. No lines. Turnaround time was 5 minutes with a sticker for each of us to prove it. It was important for me and your father that you experience democracy firsthand now that you are old enough to grasp the concept.
I don’t know the results yet as a write this. It is a close one to be sure. No landslide this time.
Kids, you must listen to me. When the going gets crazy and people REALLY start to piss you off:
- Find someone who is intelligent with whom you completely disagree on just about everything political. Schedule coffee with them. Ask questions. Nod your head. Don’t fake it, but understand that debating politics often leads nowhere. You don’t have to agree, but you do have to listen. There is no better way to become more certain of your convictions than to have a civil conversation with someone who believes the opposite. Don’t refuse to be confused. It is an opportunity to hold your beliefs up to a light and see if there are cracks that you have never noticed.
- It is ok to be a Wobbly (to be fully unconvinced by either side) but don’t be lazy. I am a Wobbly. People will call it fence-walking and roll their eyes at you. Ignore it if you find your equilibrium perfectly fine on the fence. Don’t feel pressured to be labeled. There is nothing wrong with being independent. It means you are still figuring things out. The most interesting people in the world are a work in progress. Your beliefs can be too.
- It’s also ok to be passionate. If you know what you believe, and why you believe it, stand up and state your point. Just don’t forget to listen and be self-critical. You may not be right, and you need to know that. Regardless, if you have an opinion, let it be known and be prepared to explain it.
- Don’t take the hate bait. There will always be a handful of people who are assholes where politics is concerned. They will say things that offend you. It is better to be offended than to be an offender. Trust me. Check the definition of ideologue in the dictionary, and then read Socrates. Enjoy your pillow at night.
- Study Abe Lincoln. Read his writing and his speeches. Lincoln was a master craftsman with the English language. A word is never wasted or misused by honest Abe. Appreciate his decisions and the circumstances that affected and depended upon them. He suffered from clinical depression. Serious bouts of it. Debilitating ones. How did he function as the leader of our country with such a perceived impediment? I am giving you the job of finding out. He sought ways to allow his good and bad demons to do a creative dance. He sought to understand people. Vote for the guy who you think Lincoln would have at his bedside during one of those dark times, or at his table during an important discussion.
- It is okay to laugh during Saturday Night Live during election years no matter what. I am going to be worried about you if you do not. Sense of humor is key for survival. Without it, you are toast in most all sticky situations.
Now, maybe – just maybe – they will call this thing soon tonight so we can all unclinch our buttcheeks and get on with the business of doing the next right thing tomorrow.