We have a son who is fourteen years old. The first election he was old enough to be aware of was President Obama in 2008. We watched the inauguration with friends, feeling the weight of an historic moment with chests tight, full of prideful, happy tears. Our son, then just six-years-old and enamored with those traditional societal heroes: police, firefighters, military, stood in his little Marine Dress uniform and saluted our first African American President as he was sworn in.
It is a photo that still evokes emotion.
He has grow into a vocal, passionate, compassionate teenager whose goal is to be a Paramedic; to help others in need. He has a strong sense of justice, a powerful sensitivity about the hate and dangers in the world, and after a lifetime of a Presidency full of dignity, inclusiveness, promise and justice, his next experience proved to be an about face.
His next experience again brought tight chests and rising emotion, but for all the wrong reasons. Shock, fear, sadness, disappointment sent him to his phone and texting with friends; some crying, some couldn't articulate. The day after the election, I witnessed a group of teens console, comfort, lift and buoy one another, while expressing a very real concern for what this meant -- for friends who could be/were the victims of resulting hate speech or intolerance. These teens who represent the shining hope of what we can and should be to and for one another, stumbled, unsure.
So we told them -- we resist. We don't need to hide, nor do we need to battle. We do not need to thrash and turn violent, but neither must we stand by, idle, silent, complicit when we witness injustice.
We told them -- we resist. And we will help you see how. Whether by learning to converse with respect and maturity with those with whom we disagree, to raising our voices on signs, in lines, online or on paper.
We told them -- we will resist, and we will demand a world that you deserve, a world you will look forward to walking into when it is your time to step free. We will help you feel empowered to do the same.
Hold your friends closer, speak for those who cannot, demand responsibility…and resist.
Resist the urge to fall into to despair, to a sense of hopelessness. Resist the need to hole up and ignore.
And resist the forces that seek to drive us into the dark places that hold nothing but fear, mistrust and hate. Dig in your heels, lock arms with your brothers and sisters, look into each other's eyes and say, "No. I do not live that world. I reject it and I want a different world. And I shall have it."
Take that six-year-old's hopeful, loving, compassionate, tolerant view of the world and shine his light into the darkness. When it joins all the other six-year-olds who now stand with you in their teen years, those beams will blast the darkness back, revealing the truth, and heralding in the world you wish to own. Raise your voices to say no to what you reject, and, even louder, to rally and welcome what you demand.