What Kind of Extremist Will You Be?
“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letters from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963)
I think many of us are still processing the violence of January 6th to understand the magnitude of that day. While the events of the day left us feeling upset, angry, powerless, and maybe lost, it was also a day of extremes. Those who stormed the Capitol building and those responsible for electing two diverse candidates to Georgia’s Senate seats. One group was for the preservation of injustice, the other for the extension of justice.
I tend to be an optimist and look for the bright spots in dark times. The January 6th attack has consumed us and has sucked the oxygen out of the air, but the Senate election is the long arc of history where diversity and open-mindedness win the day.
Last week was exhausting to process. From now until after inauguration day- there will be a steady stream of rhetoric filling our screens- some thoughtful and worthy, but much inflammatory and meant to incite.
While our older children will be bombarded through social media, our younger ones will hear things.Neither group will be able to make sense of what they are hearing or seeing without our help. The videos, memes, and rhetoric of these events can create more anxiety and stress. Our intentionality and consideration about when, how, and where we discuss and tune-in to these events matters. It is crucial that we stay attuned to what they are being exposed to – and help them feel safe and process at an age-appropriate level.
I know we are exhausted by the politics, protests, and injustices of the last year- and yes, the pandemic. But as parents and teachers of young children, we have an opportunity to help them learn how to work through understanding the complexities of our current world. We also have a timely example in Martin Luther King, who led positively in what was arguably a more challenging period.
Below are several resources to help or frame the issues in front of us. They each have age-appropriate approaches. I hope they are in some way helpful.
The National Association of School Psychologists – Talking to Children About Violence
The American Psychological Association How to Talk To Children About Difficult News
Commonsense Media – Explaining the News to Our Kids