Like many, I discovered this image through social media where it was originally attributed to the recent events in #Charlottesville, Virginia. As many have since reported, the law enforcement uniforms seem to be older than 2017 and the origin of the photo has been tracked down to an incident in Gainesville* from the 90s. While that piece of information as it relates to facts is important the picture holds power in the sense that it captures the tension of our current reality in the United States.
In my view this picture screams to the responsibility and high calling of parenting. The age-old question of nature verses nurture is being challenged in this photo as the child has no concept of what they are wearing or representing and curiosity is driving the young one to cross the line of philosophical division that their parents are raising them under. The photograph stands as a piece of history as well as a moving piece of art with themes of innocence, racism, humanity and the tension that still exists in our society.
That this picture is possible in modern and progressive civilization is disturbing to say the least. And yet, if like me you are disturbed or surprised perhaps we should do a better job of listening. We have come so far and yet we have so much further to go. Rather than become bleak about the implications of this photograph, the power of the image should speak to all parents in relationship to their essential work in shaping the foundation of values for those developing minds in their care. The negative messages in our culture have so much volume and frequency that it is difficult not to lean towards a fatalistic view of humanity. Yet, there is great hope in this same photograph in that first there is a force within this young child that transcends their social programming and secondly, as much as parenting can be a foundation for negative messaging it also has great potential for positive momentum. If you are a parent and you wonder how you can make a difference in the world, your greatest force for good in the world is developing under your umbrella of influence.
A child’s nature includes a proclivity towards being a stinker which all parents are familiar with, but the roots of racism have to be watered (nurtured) by family, friends and social affirmation. Even though parents are tired from the 24/7 duties of parenting and may doubt whether there is much more that can be done with the limited time that they have, there is hope. By being intentional with those essential years that the young humans in our care are within our direct sphere of influence we can have a significant and enduring impact on making the world suck less (#MTWSL). If you are a parent who is doing their best to handle their business and raise humans that will be a force for good in the world – keep doing good things!
*From what we could find, this photo originated from a KKK rally held on September 5, 1992 and is credited to Todd Roberston, read more from Poynter HERE.
Awkward trips to the doctor with your dad including questions asked of a young woman in an open room. First the regular questions with the regular answers and then it gets real personal, really fast...Is this really necessary?
In our family awkward conversations are a cornerstone of our philosophy - if we aren't having those awkward conversations about taboo topics with our children then someone else is. As a parent you have to decide whether you are going to create an environment where your children can ask you any question, regardless of content, so that you can discuss as a family or if you are willing to allow outside influences to be the sounding board for those in your care.
Uncomfortable conversations start at a young age often with bad words, how you respond and deal with your children discovering alternative language will set a precedent for how young ones will or will not bring questions to you about things they see, hear and experience throughout their life. A great starting point that we were encouraged to use for example would be that when a child hears a word that they do not understand (even if that is a four letter word) they should wait until they get home and bring it up at the dinner table so that the family can discuss the meaning of the work and whether this is a word that our family should be using.
We can take away the power of negative words by understanding them and explaining the use of language and reclaiming its beauty.
We can create an environment of communication in our homes by turning taboo into teaching moments.
We believe that it is so important to remember as a parent that if you are not having these awkward conversations with your children, someone else is.
Jon Isaacson. Green belt in the puzzle art of business. Helping people clarify their vision, optimize productivity & follow through w/ creative solutions #MTWSL
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