This evening my son was watching a segment on the news about the state of the economy. That’s not unusual, especially these days. If we, as a country, are honest about the start of this economic mess we’re in, he has lived in these times only, as he stands on the precipice of teenhood. With all the news reports, political pandering, and downright nastiness of educated rich adults spewing horrible rhetoric each night it didn’t sink in how much it was sinking in.
This news segment, as horrible as it was, didn’t seem new or different than all the others. My husband and I didn’t even really react. But then we realized how riveted our son was. Still, after exchanging looks, we let him be.
He went into the other room, presumably to watch youtube videos about his video games (research, of course). I silently made a note to remind him that overexposure to his games of choice has the potential for dissociative and desensitizing to reality.
Twenty minutes later he called us both into the room to watch the video he made.
He posted the video on social media sites and then we spent a while talking about politics and people, control, honesty and reality.
This morning when I woke up I knew he planned to talk to a particular girl, and I was nostalgic about him growing up and worried about him losing the innocence before crushes. He didn’t talk to her, but by the evening I realized the crushing awareness of reality was much more a loss of innocence than I was prepared for.
He spoke of being confused about people who say they are religious but go out of their way to stop helping others, refuse to support those in need, and show anger and hate for those who are different. He asked how that makes sense. He asked how those very politicians bully each other and are happy, truly happy, when someone they think less of gets hurt or loses. He asked how it made sense that they talk about the Constitution but forget that it says all people are equal, and then try to makes laws so they’re not.
We didn’t have answers. All we could say is that it’s not just in politics, it’s every where, that those mean kids, those cliques in middle school…. they’re actually real. And it doesn’t matter that they’re not smart, that they’re not pretty, that they’re not nice, it only matters that they have pretend power.
At they end of the evening that’s all we could tell him since we won’t lie to him. But at the end of the day, that’s all they have, pretend power. Those pretend convictions, the pretend experience, the pretend understanding … they only have pandering left to offer, and they get nasty and sling their political weight and misplaced egos because they know that some see through their lies and bull.
In the end, humanity matters; as a whole and towards others. As a parent though, it stung to have to introduce him to the reality of the scarcity of it.
Respect can only be earned, it cannot be mandated.