Friday, January 25, 2013

Inauguration, Part 2

If you saw my blog post on Tuesday night, you know that I had the privilege of attending the inauguration of President Barack Obama on Monday.

While this blog focuses on connecting children to nature and to other cultures, I believe a discussion about our Presidential Inauguration fits in any discussion about culture, since the way a nation governs itself is part of its culture.

Case in point: Before the inauguration began, an activist climbed a nearby tree and refused to come down. He screamed horrible things about the President throughout the entire ceremony. To say it was annoying would be an understatement. The crowd shouted random comments to try to get him to stop. A spontaneous chanting of "Shake the tree!" even erupted.

But then one woman yelled, "Respect the Constitution and stop yelling for a few minutes!"

My husband and I looked at each other and said, "I don't think she understands the Constitution." And in that moment, I realized that, yes, I was annoyed by the man the tree, but I am SO thankful to live in a country where he can speak his mind.

In many other parts of the world he could be jailed or "disappear" or be shot out of a tree for speaking against the government. As much as I hated his words, I'd never take away his right to speak them. That's part of living in a democratic society. We have the right to speak our minds.

I love to travel and that travel has helped me embrace other worldviews. It has also shown me things that could be improved in our country and made me value the rights I have as a woman and citizen of this country.

So what does this all have to do with you? Please take the time to teach your children to be engaged citizens. Talk to them about how our government works. Discuss the candidates and the issues around your dinner table. Research the facts together. Make sure YOU vote, and take them with you to see you do it. Then, when they turn 18, take them to register to vote.

Our nation needs informed citizens and meaningful, respectful discourse. We need our children to learn how to participate and then choose to do so.

How do you help your children learn about our government and civic engagement?

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  1. My husband and daughter also attended the inauguration. Sounds like you had an amazing time!

    1. Oh, that's great! I hope they didn't have to listen to the activist in the tree.

  2. this was the time when great hope was given to both American and non-Americans. more power!

  3. Well, I disagree that shouting annoyingly during a speech that other people came to listen to shows any respect for the constitution. Free speech is a give as well as a take -- not trying to drown other voices is as important as getting your own voice out. So asking that someone preventing you from hearing one voice to be removed isn't squelching free speech.

    Of course, this can be abused on the other side as well -- I'd also disagree with elaborate laws preventing annoying people from ever speaking at parks or anything. And I do agree with the idea of making kids active and concerned citizens, even when it backfires sometimes (school kids don't actually have full constitutional rights, something that is hard to explain to some 11 year olds).

    1. I agree, Beth. I didn't mean to suggest the activist was showing any respect for the President or the ceremony that was taking place. And I certainly don't think others yelling for him to be quiet was inappropriate. I would certainly never express my views in either of these ways. BUT... I'm glad he won't suffer the way political dissidents in some other countries do.

  4. Fun that you went! My boyfriend was standing near that tree protester, too! Great points here about his freedom of speech, even if he was annoying :)

    1. Hmmm, Lexi, maybe we saw each other!

      It's funny, in 2009 we were way back near the Washington Monument. We recently learned that my husband's second cousin was right near us. The crowds were so big we never would have known it

      Thanks for stopping by.