You Cannot Be a Good Parent and Be Nonpolitical

As parents we should be alarmed, incensed, and demand change to build a safe and healthy society for our children. But how do we know what to fight for? This can be tricky, especially because the same corrupting powers influencing politicians are also working hard to influence our views. As parents, we have to break free of the influence of those powerful lobbying groups to think for ourselves, and to gain clarity. Only you can decide what is most important to you and your family, but I will present my thoughts on a few issues that are worth fighting for in America.

Legislation to Prevent Senseless Massacres
(of our children)

This is a hot button issue and people are primed up to jump on it one way or the other. Why is that?  Why is it so important for fellow Americans to own military grade assault rifles like the AR15, high capacity magazines, and bump stocks (which modify rifles to fire like a machine gun)?  No one can seriously suggest any of these are needed to hunt or even to protect one’s life, family or property (do you live in a live war zone of attacking militias? if so, consider other fixes). So what does regulating or banning such weapons and accessories have to do with parenting?  Do you remember the massacre of 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 at their elementary school named Sandy Hook in Connecticut?  As a parent, that was one of the saddest days of my life and it still fills me with sadness. I’ve never been to Connecticut, I didn’t know any of those kids or their parents, but as a parent, I know what it is like to drop your kids off at school and can imagine the unspeakable horror to have my own beautiful innocent children taken away in such senseless violence. How did this happen? How did it happen in Parkland, FL? In Vegas? And so many other places?  I’m no expert, but one of the common threads in the massacres mentioned is use of the AR 15 which is designed to kill humans by tearing up their internal organs. Those conducting autopsies on the victims in Parkland said they’d never seen anything like it. It is easy to use and once hit there is no little chance of survival which is why it is increasingly the weapon of choice for mass murder.

As parents, we should ask ourselves would we rather work now to prevent future massacres of our own children or wait until it happens to one of our children, like the father of Jamie Guttenberg, gunned down at her high school in Parkland, FL? NO, we should educate ourselves now, write emails, make calls, donate money. Those are the basic ways to be a participant in our democracy. Because powerful organizations like the NRA do this, it requires all parents to stand up together to fight for our children and their safety. It’s not easy to become an expert, and so we have to rely on others at some point to make the best decisions about gun control. But the wrong positions are easy to identify and protest; the talking points of the NRA and their proxies are usually in the interest of making more violent weapons more widely available (facilitating more massacres).

Legislation to Protect the Environment

Another important issue for parents to be informed about and active on is the environment. Once again, it has become politicized thanks to powerful corporations who have full time lobbyists to influence politicians and marketing teams to confuse the public. As parents we have to recognize that we want to insure our children have clean air and clean water and not let corporations or politicians stand in our way. How would you feel if you were among those families in Flint, MI exposed to lead in your drinking water, harming your children?  We have to keep up the fight for high environmental standards. We also have to become educated about climate change and work to address it in the name of our children and grandchildren. Again, Parents stand the most to lose on these issues, we should STAND UP and BE HEARD. We should organize as PARENTS fighting for our CHILDREN and their FUTURE. The political parties have just paid lip service to our needs; we need to demand more of all of them. We can do it together.

Healthcare Reform

Maybe you are happy with your healthcare, maybe you have good insurance, or maybe you have found it prohibitively expensive. As parents we need to ask ourselves what we want for our kids and fight for it. Polls suggest that most Americans are interested in universal coverage such as is found in Canada and most other developed countries. America is the outlier on this, as it is on guns, because of the corruption of our political system. Do you want to go broke getting medicine for your child? Do you want them to go broke after they are grown? No, it’s not right and there is a better way.

Other Issues

As parents we have many other concerns: internet safety, drugs, education, sexuality, money, racism and more. There is much we can do on our own to protect and educate our children, and some issues may not have clear legislative fixes. We should be careful not to think everything can be legislated. Some things are left to us and our wits and responsible actions. What we want to work on at the political level are those threats that are more difficult to protect ourselves from through our own wits and efforts, which is why I’ve listed three: guns, climate, healthcare. These three already have robust resources to explore and organizations to help. I welcome thoughts in the comments below on the issues I’ve raised or ones I may have missed.

The Bottom Line

Being a good parent requires a great many things besides being political. In fact, being a good parent is MOSTLY nonpolitical in nature. BUT, due to the unbridled corruption of our political systems we the people need to fight to make the world safe for our children. This is why I think parents are a critical source for political action and change. We love our children and would do anything for them. If that is true, political action is part of our call as good parents, to ignore politics is to make the world more dangerous.

 

Parenting in the Age of Catastrophic Climate Change

Saving for college, keeping them healthy, making their teeth straight, chauffeuring them to activities, parties, and competitions and so on and so forth–the time and money spent on raising our children is a labor of love and has always been worth it. But what about now? How can we justify those expenses when we are on a crash course with annihilation if we don’t turn the corner on climate change? Should we start shifting our energy to battling climate change, battling climate skepticism, reducing our carbon footprints, political action and advocacy? All of those things cost time and money that as parents we spend on our kids, but what if our kids have NO FUTURE?  Wouldn’t our time and money be better spent on ensuring they have a future?

These are the questions an (overly) rational parent begins to ask in this moment of impending  climate doom.

If you are an (overly) rational young person, you too will be asking similar questions about the time and effort you spend in preparing for a career, in building a future with a lover, in saving money to buy a car or a house or start a business. You too must wonder if you should put it all on hold, somehow, and fight for YOUR FUTURE.

Looking soberly at the reports of the scientific community, the most rational response to the current unprecedented situation is to drop everything we can and bring LASER FOCUS to FIGHTING FOR OUR FUTURE.

Climate Change is a Downer

You may have flirted with such ideas or fantasized about being more active, but what if we really began to do this with all the available time (I’m assuming people keep doing what they do to pay the bills). Those of us who have experimented with climate “activism” have probably found it a lonely frustrating vocation. If you’ve just broached the topic you’ve found just how devastating climate change is to a conversation. If you are speaking to (inactive) allies, climate talk elicits muted assent, along the lines of “Yep.” And the conversation typically ends. If you are speaking to a climate skeptic, the conversation can go on quite a bit longer, but almost never leads to any progress. You’re left with some combination of feelings of annoyance, disappointment, frustration, anger, disbelief–all emotions we can’t get enough of, right? Wrong, climate change is a downer and our social lives tend to benefit if we keep it off the table. So….how do we do this!?

 

vote against women sufferage

The fight for women’s suffrage wasn’t easy either.

I’m Sure Abolition, Civil Rights, and Women’s Suffrage Have all Been Downers

Downers, that is, for the groups threatened with radical change. That’s why broad-based social movements and mobilizations have been required to move the conversation forward. Those of us concerned have to get together with other like-minded people concerned for our futures, the future of our children or grandchildren. This has to be the rallying cry: MAKE THE WORLD SAFE FOR OUR CHILDREN. We need to build grassroots connections in OUR COMMUNITIES. Sure, we need to communicate and coordinate at national and international levels, but the vast majority of US need to expend our time and money working LOCALLY. In democratic electoral systems this is where elections take place and has to be one of our points of attack. Public Policy is where far-reaching impacts can take place backed by state authority. To influence this we must become active in our local communities wherever we are. Your representatives, your senators, your MPs, your congresspersons all have local offices where you can deliver letters, news articles, reports and schedule appointments to speak with them. You can also participate and organize in public demonstrations at these offices in coordination with other jurisdictions or not. The local communities where each of us live are the places where the vast majority of us can have the most impact.

abolitionist among you

The fight against entrenched slavery wasn’t easy either, but our ancestors did it. We are at another juncture where we need to rise.

 

If you’re still reading, you are interested in fighting for your future and, especially, our children’s future. Your recognizing the absurdity of saving thousands of dollars for your children’s education only to realize you are sending them off to the wolves unless you fight now and fight hard for their future. So, what do we do? The good news is that WE HAVE SOLUTIONS!

Three levels of Impact

Your Wallet – How you spend your money

The first change is in OUR OWN consumption habits and value systems. We have to educate ourselves on reducing our own carbon footprints. Something we can immediately do is consume LESS BEEF and DAIRY. Maybe you’ve been thinking about doing this for one reason or another, well NOW IS THE TIME to do it with full commitment and the blessings of future generations (for more on how this helps climate change go here). Other steps that individuals and families can take is to drive an ELECTRIC VEHICLE (EV) and power it with renewable energy, most likely SOLAR. Prices on EVs and solar continue to drop and become much more feasible for middle class families. You can also walk and bike when possible and work to make such modes of transportation common. You can make sure you switch to an electricity provider who uses and/or invests in renewable energy. As a consumer you can purchase and advocate for moving BEYOND PLASTICS; there are lots of excellent plant-based plastic substitutes now available. These are just some starting points, check this blog for additional ideas and links.

Corporate Responsibility – Make them listen

Corporations are important because they have a much larger impact on climate change than any individual family. We can influence their behaviors in a variety of ways. One is through the power of our wallets….don’t buy from corporations who deny and work against climate action (I will provide more info on this in future posts). Pressure entities to divest from fossil fuels (see here); divestment was part of the successful strategy to end apartheid in South Africa, it is one of the strategies needed now to weaken irresponsible corporations. The other way to push corporations to act responsibly is through political advocacy and action, which is the third level of impact.

Public Policy – Make governments work for the people

This is where you will have to be more determined and patient because it takes months and years to see any movement in this arena. But don’t let that discourage you. It’s time for all of us to dig in and make our governments more responsive to the demands of climate change. There are various ways to contact and petition governments around the world. In general you have government representatives who represent you wherever you live. There are mayors, city council members, governors/premiers and various state/provincial/federal representatives. There is political power at every level of the system and we should target them all. One way of working for climate progress is, for now, to become a one issue voter: which candidate believes climate science and is most willing to act on it?  If there is a particular party that should lead on climate change, insist that they do. Write, email, call, meet, demonstrate. In short, one of the special asks of this moment, is for all of us to become more politically informed and active (More on how to do this in future posts).

If We Want a Future for Our Children We Have to Act Now

It is daunting, it may not be fair, but this is the lot we as parents in this moment have drawn. We owe it to our children to fight for their future. This fight happens on three levels: our individual buying and eating habits, corporations, and governments. We owe it to our children to wage war on each level to make the most happen in as short a time as possible. We now know that we have to cut carbon emissions by 50% within 12 years. This is a monumental task that requires our time, money, attention, passion, creativity, and commitment. Another way to begin making an impact is to support organizations and news outlets who are working to educate and prevent climate change (see list here).

We all need to do our part-  we don’t really have a choice.