There is a stark difference between the landscape of my inner-city public education and my children’s country-style homeschool education. With the recent turmoil surrounding law enforcement and racism debates, my thoughts have rarely made it to my mouth. Every time I go to speak, I then remember that I’m very much white, well-provided for, and have little desire or time to enter a fight that’s way out of my league. So then I sigh with shame and relief that I’ve really got nothing relevant to say anyway. But the shame lingers because I know my children, whom I am working so hard to protect, still have to choose to be part of the solution rather than the problem. In light of homeschooling, what can we do to change this backdrop of anger, privilege and prejudice? How can we cultivate a relevant and informed understanding while not joining the destructive fray?
It has to be through kindness. What if kindness was a baseline to everything else we do? Before a child is put on a pre-engineering path or considers scholarship options, what if she were well-equipped with gracious words in the face of an angry person? What if a child was taught the value of every person, role, and perspective before knowing how to use a checking account? What would our communities look like if serving others – in nursing homes, restaurants, and every day dirty jobs – was a requirement before cell phones or driver’s licenses were handed out?
As powerful as a parent’s role is, we cannot expect to stamp out poverty, crime or injustice as long as the devil is in play here on earth. Whenever policies and laws change, evil will adapt and attack differently. I can, however, teach my children the currency of kindness. The adults that spring forward from my little homeschool could lift others up from out of their circumstance, work for the purpose of generous giving, or serve the confused and misled rather than fuel the ugly fights we are seeing today.
1) Courtesy. “Yes, ma’am.” “No, sir.” “Please and Thank You.” Holding the door for others. Exercising patience in any and every line you might be in, including traffic. Whomever you hold in high regard, treat others as though they were that person. And yes, whether they deserve it or not.
2) Appreciation. Listening and understanding someone’s position, experience and needs long before you comment or act. In marriage, the work place and even in politics, when I feel listened to and at least appreciated for sharing my view I am more likely to consider opposing views.
3) Value and Gratitude. When we are taught gratitude in every circumstance, value in all things goes up. Did we do without? In the future we can show empathy to others. Did we always have extra? In the future we can commit to sharing with those without. Either way, gratitude adds value to everyone’s life!
The colors and complaints will likely change. Our position on policy might even shift. Learning to see others – all others – as valuable and in need of Christ-like love will always be the most user-friendly currency.