Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Civil Rights

On Monday during lunch, while the kids were having some trail mix post sandwiches (for Isaiah and Mia) and cereal (for Benji), we read this story and this story.
I think they correlated quite nicely -- treating others as you would like to be treated, not treating others as less than yourself.
The thing I love about the first book is that it shares the phrase of the golden rule in the way it is taught from various religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Shawnee Tribe.  It also promotes thinking about applying the rule in different situations from a child's perspective, and was very thought-provoking for me as well.  
Then we read about Martin Luther King's life in the other book, and I prefaced it with earlier conversations we've had on slavery and the poor treatment of black people, the whole ugly issue of racism and how wrong it is.
The story sketches Martin's life as a child and as an adult.
What he fought for, how he worked and prayed with people.
It shares the Rosa Parks incident.
We talked about how Martin knew it was right to fight for equal rights, even though it was scary.
He had courage and he knew he was doing God's work.
I love that famous phrase: "I have a dream."  It moves me to the core.
We talked about how some white people wouldn't let black people in their stores, on the bus, use their toilets, share their common things.  They viewed black people as LESS, as dirty or unclean.
I asked them throughout the discussion if they thought this was right, to which the answer was always no.
Benji didn't understand why Rosa Parks was arrested because she wouldn't give up her seat.  He said, "The policemen did that, Mom?"
I spent time reinforcing.
We talked about how we are all God's children, and not one of us is any better than anyone else, regardless of skin color, eye shape, or any other discriminatory factor.
We are all equal and all beautiful.
Then, after this discussion, Isaiah came out with this:

"If the white people kept doing that to the black people, I would grow up to be the bishop and teach them all about Jesus Christ and that they can use the same potties and the same buses and the same plates and tables as the white people are." 

Aside from it kind of cracking me up that he referred to being a bishop so he could teach people what was right (we had talked about how Martin was a minister), I thought it was very profound.

I found myself uttering a silent prayerful wish, right then, in my mind and heart:

Oh Isaiah, I hope you have the courage to fight the injustices in your time.
I hope you have the courage to speak up and out.
To teach truth by your words and example.
And God, please give me the courage to do the same.

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