Sitting with my 10 1/2 year old granddaughter as she’s doing 5th grade history homework, she reads passages to me and abruptly stops to declare, “that’s not right Grammy!” Clearly she’s upset, knowing her as well as I do, she expresses her opinion about the paragraph she just read. “They’re not Indians, that’s not okay to say. I’m not writing that for my answer.” My heart, warmed by her compassion and directness, I explained first that “history” is what we’re being told because we didn’t live back then. She balked at that, but then I commended her for being appalled and asked her what her preference is to fill in the blank on her paper. She said she would just write Americans. Then I handed her the missing tool and suggested she add Native to her answer. She smiled, agreed and wrote her new choice.
While I try to be cognitive of teachable moments and what I often find is I’m not always the teacher, regardless of someone’s age. We talked a little more about this. I praised her for standing on her convictions, beliefs and using her voice. I thought to myself how oppression has been the downfall of my life, hence the internal struggle. I can only imagine the horrific stories from history and particular heritages, what they encountered and endured.
The topic of evolving took place with her next. We aren’t where we once were, but we aren’t yet where (I hope) we are going either. That’s being a difference maker, I explained. Not just standing by, quietly accepting the unacceptable or tolerating intolerance. Tell me more about your heart, I asked her. Never dismiss or fear the true words, thoughts and feelings of a child (or adult) because given a safe space, they will always honor their truth.
Is it merely human nature or even the human condition that we make up stories in our own minds, judging others for why they are in the spot they are in in life? It happens all the time, the assumption of another’s choices and blaming them for why they are in this or that predicament when the reality is, we can’t possibly know their story without asking them. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. (wisdom from my wise 87 year old friend)
Taking a moment to understand someone else as I listen to their thought provoking perspective makes me smile in gratitude. Being right is far less important to me than loving someone where they are. That being said, I leave you with this mantra; I’ll be quiet (not silent), you can be right and I’ll be happy. There is no price tag on civility and Serenity, but there sure as shootin’ is a cost for close mindedness.
If God (insert your personal Source here) meant for us to pray and believe only one way, why did He create so much diversity? Love is love for humankind. Be the change you want to see. Fear less by being fearless. I’m proud of my (almost 5) grand-youngsters and what their parents (my kids) are teaching them about equality and human rights. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.