|Gillian watching President Obama's inaugural address|
Four years ago when Gillian was in 5th grade her class watched Obama's first inauguration and were asked to write down their observations. Here are her notes from that day.
I tried to get her to write down her observations today, but she refused since it's a school holiday and she didn't want to do anything remotely resembling school work. Instead, as we watched I asked her questions. We talked about the historical significance of this inauguration being held on Martin Luther King Day, during the year marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Luckily, due to a having a great U.S. History teacher this year, and having also seen the movie Lincoln not long ago, she has a good understanding of both events.
I mentioned to her that Obama took his oath of office on two bibles, one that was President Lincoln's, the other having belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. She seemed most interested in the connections between today and Martin Luther King Jr. In her history class they recently watched a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Children's Crusade. I asked her if she would ever be willing to do what those children did. Would she go to jail for something similar? She replied "I wouldn't have to" which I guess was a young person's very innocent, honest recognition of her white privilege. A minute later she said, "But I would if I had to for things to change." Phew! I was relieved. One of the principles I'm trying to teach her is that although obeying laws and rules is important and right most of the time, civil disobedience for the greater good is equally important. To me, having strong convictions and being willing to risk personal comfort for those convictions, along with a sense of justice for ALL mankind is extremely important. Belief in personal convictions and being willing to speak up against popular culture and the majority is something I really value. Because of this I'm trying to raise a child who is a thinker, not a follower.
Much has changed in the last four years. Gillian is no longer a young child making innocent, non-political observations about our president's inauguration. Today she is more aware of the greater world around her and her connection to it. She's learning about the struggles and challenges in our country and world, and how the outcomes of such struggles impact her. I love watching this process, seeing her learn, watching the light bulbs come on in her head. She's beginning to understand her place in the world, and I hope, the importance of being an informed, active, engaged citizen. This morning was one those gratifying days of parental reward. Two months ago we sat together watching election returns, Gillian seeing me cheer and cry when Obama's victory was announced. Today we again watched history in the making. It was a good day.