Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reactions to the Election

There was a lot of excitement in school after the election. Children came in eager to talk about the results, and to share their enthusiasms or disappointments. It really seemed, however, that they were trying to be mindful of each other's sensibilities despite the strength of their feelings. I was very impressed by a particular McCain supporter who entered generously into the spirit of his friends' jubilant energy.

I shared a small part of Barack Obama's acceptance speech with Susan Carpenter's class, because the message behind it - that everyone is important, whatever race, whatever age, gender, orientation or political affiliation, everyone is part of the whole and we must work together - was one that I felt has particular significance for the children. Susan talked about John McCain's gracious speech in which he also stressed the importance of working together for the common good. Feelings have run high amongst the children in the lead-up to this election, and when children like these engage their passions, they do so with intensity. It's a perfect opportunity to help them practice using the strength of their experiences to connect with each other. How can they use their own experience to understand someone else who has a similar emotional response but comes from a different direction? How can they learn to listen to other points of view, and understand that 'different' does not mean 'wrong'? How can they use that knowledge to understand each other better? The political leaders whom they have supported so eagerly are both advocating a move into the future with tolerance and cooperation. Let's harness the children's support for their political heroes to this idea of mutual support. How can we all work together to make this a better country and a better world? What do the children think?

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