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Politics, debated

So, an interesting thing happened last night, the night after President Obama’s farewell address.  Mythankfulboy has an ongoing group chat going with 6 of his friends, 5 of whom chime in regularly.   I don’t know how it started, but last night an Obama-vs-Trump debate ensued in the chat, which evolved and covered welfare and poverty in America, taxation, the concept of a trickle-down economy, addiction, and privelege.   Words like “fair” and “deserving” and “entitled” were used.  These are white male 14-year-olds who are freshmen in a very white rural school.

Partway through, B came bounding out of his room, almost breathless from the fight, and told me what was happening and who was on what side.  They had split down the middle, 3 making liberal and 3 making conservative arguments.  I guess it is not difficult to assume that B was a liberal.  B bounced concepts off of me, and then went back to his room to continue the debate (and to play an Xbox racing game, simultaneously, keeping the adrenaline up).  He popped back out with a “then he said, then I said, then he said” account from time to time.  The whole thing was eye-opening for him, that he could have such dramatically different views than people he considers close friends.  He had known it, of course, as one would, but this took things to a new level.

Meanwhile, there is an inevitable, but suppressed, extension of this debate into the relationships among the boys’ parents.  We are all friends, and we are all grateful our boys have one another.  Two of us live across the street from one another, and, during the election, had opposing yard signs (mine was there before they moved in, and they were amazingly kind to place theirs where it was visible from the road but obscured from visibility from my house by a tree).  The parents of B’s friends are really the only folks I encounter regularly that have such different views than mine, and, while we don’t discuss politics, I am glad they are in our lives both because they are true friends, and to keep all of this real.

So, last night at our evening thankfulness ritual, B was thankful for a night at home to “chill”.  They are few and far between.  I was thankful that he and his friends are passionate about their beliefs and are able and interested in having a debate about politics. I was thankful that he stood up for his (by which I mean our) values.  I didn’t say, but I was thinking, that I was a little in awe of him and all of his friends.  School may be interesting, today…

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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L is for loser; P is for president

Last evening was a normal one: YMCA, dinner, clean-up, dog, Crossfit (him, not me), and work.  It seemed like our chalice-lightings had been a little heavy lately, and my friend KBG had posted a Youtube video of a short, sweet, personal interview of President Obama by a woman named Ingrid Nilson that had touched me, so I thought I’d show him that.  I can’t go further without saying that I don’t know how old Ms. Nilson is, but from this old dawg’s viewpoint, she looks incredibly young to be so poised and graceful and accomplished, and she has a lovely openness and awe about her that made her just perfect for this interview.   She had asked him to bring an object from “home” about which to talk, and he brought several from a collection of objects people have given him since he’s been running for or been in office.  Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgqQ0PbhezU&feature=youtu.be

Mythankfulboy watched it, smiling from time to time and glancing over at me (probably to see if I were tearing up).  When it was done, he said, “Cool”.   We talked about the different symbols President Obama had pulled out of his pocket, and how he knew something about each of them – even the symbols from religions other than his own.  And, of course, since one of them was from Pope Francis, and I have a huge crush on Pope Francis, it only made me love Obama more.  Then I ruined the moment by saying, “Yeah.  I’m going to be so sad when he’s gone and some other knucklehead takes office.”

When we shifted to his room to light the chalice, Mythankfulboy had the choices he sees some kids at school make about money on his mind.  He felt they had too much money and used it too frivolously, spending thousands of dollars on computers, gaming systems, shoes, etc.  It’s interesting, and satisfying I have to say, to hear him spout my values back to me, especially because the amount of money kids (B, included) have laying around, and the amount of expensive stuff they have, is a source of frustration for me.  When B isn’t interested in doing chores to earn allowance because he has so much money he’s received in holiday or birthday gifts that he doesn’t need the allowance, and there is no thought to using some of it to help others, I have been known to, ahem, comment on it.  I’m not sure his point last night was that the excess should be re-allocated to people in need (which would have made my heart leap).  I think it may just have been commentary on money he doesn’t have that seems ridiculous because he has the things he needs, mixed with a bit of jealousy, but hey – it’s a step in the right direction.

We moved on, then, to the part about thankfulness, and he said, “Ummmmmmmm” while casting his eyes around the room trying to find something.  He eventually said, “Neat things”, then started talking about something else.  I put by fingers in a big “L” to my forehead and kept it there until he noticed.  He said, “What?  Loser?”  “Yep. That was a loser gratitude offering.” (This would be the first time I’m ever told him what he had to say about being grateful just outright stunk.)  He laughed. “I meant when things are neatly organized!”  “Hmm.  I think you can do better.”  “Okay.  Let me think.” (pause) “I’m thankful I have so many things that I want and need.”  I smiled and removed my fingers from my forehead.  “Now that makes sense to me.”  He asked for what I was thankful.

I said I was thankful for a thankful President.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Gun violence, from October 1st, 2015

I did not manage to blog the night of the Roseburg, Oregon shooting, but this is important, so I do it now.  That night, as our chalice lighting, Mythankfulboy and I watched President Obama’s response to the violence.  Obama’s emotion was palpable, but controlled.  His words were simple, and from his heart.  I was so proud of his saying that it just wasn’t enough anymore to come together and grieve.  That something has to change.  That we, as a country, are such a dramatic outlier in the category of gun violence from other first world countries.  I cried listening to his appeal to the media, to law-abiding gun owners, and to the people of the US.

B watched quietly.  He was sitting to my right, and I could see peripherally that his eyes sometimes darted between the screen and my face, watching closely how I felt about this issue and our president’s words.  When the speech was finished, I turned to B without saying anything.  He looked intently back at me and we sat in silence for a few minutes.  I told him I thought it was the most direct and honest thing I had heard from a politician in a long time.  He said that he wished they’d all speak from the heart.

We switched rooms and lit the chalice with a somber feeling in the air.  I said I was thankful for President Obama.  He said that he was, too, and that he hoped his speech made a difference.

As a Unitarian Universalist, and as an educator of sorts, I sometimes have to work against my own tendency to put information out there and let B draw his own conclusions.  This is simply not a topic about which there is room for a boy growing daily towards manhood to feel ambivalence.  If we want to live out our UU principles and live in a loving, just, safe(r) world, our youth have to experience direct teaching, loving guidance, and clear parameters around guns. Meanwhile, we have to show them the power of saying loudly what we believe so that we might be heard and our laws come to reflect it.

Direct teaching and clear parameters were what I heard from our president this night.  From your lips to God’s ears, President Obama.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Dental suction and marriage equality

Last night, at our bedtime chalice-lighting, B was thankful for “the suckers at the dentist”. It took me a minute to orient to his topic, so he added “You know – the little things (crooking his finger at me) they use to suck up all the blood and stuff so you don’t have to spit so much.” And who wouldn’t be thankful for the little suckers? But I bet they don’t get thanked very often…

I was thankful that President Obama took a stand on the side of love on the debate over marriage equality. B said “I don’t get why there’s a debate.” Exactly.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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