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…