We do not watch TV in my family. That leaves us in the dark when a question like ‘Have you seen the last episode of…’ surfaces, but it’s a risk worth taking.
I read the news instead and often times conversations around coffee, tea, and meals, have us talk about the latest in politics. Children included. I’ve always believed that most children if given the chance and without having their minds inundated with useless, mainstream stuff, can have pertinent opinions.
We need that in today’s world more than ever. People taking the time to think, the courage to speak up and engage in conversations that may prove challenging, revealing but are overall necessary for pushing us towards knowing more, knowing better and educating ourselves.
We need our children to grow up knowing that it is not impolite or poor manners to engage in political conversations. It is necessary, because knowing what goes on in the political world can just make the world as a whole better. Simply because sooner or later that knowledge applies to voting, a tool that (should) shape the democratic world.
When a child is passionate about nature, for example, specifically the ocean, and tries to understand why people overfish and pollute the oceans which endangers us all ultimately, it is hard to come up with a good enough explanation.
That politics is intimately tied with that too is unfortunately true. Much like trawling, there is a whole lot of stuff that politics drags behind in terms of connections with industries or large companies that work for profit, no matter what’s at risk. That of course puts the politician in a sensitive spot where he has to watch out for the interests of the people, their well-being, that of the world around them, and yes, all of that should be done independent of big money.
Can a child understand that? Can they understand that though it seems Lilliputian in size, our freedom to make choices, from the businesses we support to supply our daily meals to the other utilitarian products provided by big companies, is a very important democratic muscle that grows bigger and stronger the more we use it.
At the risk of sounding overoptimistic, I will say children do somehow understand that or are capable to do so if we take the time to explain that to them. And we should. It’s the world they will inherit so it makes sense that they should have a say in how things are run.
A Canadian company is aiming to start deep sea mining sometimes in early 2017. That’s a lot of drilling and disturbing of worlds we have yet to learn of fully. That there are still species unknown to humans in those depths, that our very lives depend on the intricate mesh that marine life is, should be reason enough to give any company some pause for thinking and reconsidering. When our children grow and have jobs and funds that can be invested, they should know better than to buy stocks that chip away at the world they live in. It takes saying it out loud for them to learn.
Politics can teach a lot about ethics, or lack thereof. That politics is one of the least gracious of all the good conversation sisters is true. Yet imagine what the world would be like if most people save for those in positions of power, would engage in polite, often meaningless chit-chat, and no one would ever remark on indignities, unfairness and downright abuse of power.
We do not even need to cross the border to get close to some of that. As CBC recently revealed, a Canadian company sold armoured vehicles to both war-torn Libya and South Sudan. In both cases, the ethical and humanitarian implications are painful to discuss albeit important to do so. Sure these trades cannot reflect Canadian values. We are after all known for apologizing when someone steps on our foot; we are the kind nature-lovers with a postcard-worthy country and an appetite for wilderness discovery. We’re kind and helpful towards people who are in dire straits (see the case of recently relocated Syrian refugees).
There is enough news and information flying every which way to make this serious and saddening offense towards humanity disappear with no one wiser on whether the company stopped its death-causing trades or if anyone was sanctioned for what could almost pass as criminal acts. There’s been enough cases of ‘forgiveness’.
It is true that there is not enough time in a day to read about all that deserves attention. Canadian politics alone, local and country-wide, is enough to make your head spin. Add to that the heartbreaking events unfolding in Syria at the moment as millions of people are in need of water under sweltering heat and amidst daily bombings. South Sudan with its millions of displaced, famished people too. Millions of African farmers punished severely by climate change.
Yet if enough people talk politics, each bringing some pieces to the big conversation about the world, we might just realize that we know more and better simply because someone took the time to inform themselves, and decided to share it with others. To ask questions, to make us think, to make us do our part as much as we can.
It is by all means easy (not on our conscience) to stick to our summer fun that might or might not include water which we have free access to (imagine the complete opposite), to happy conversations and good things happening in the world, because really, there are many. But we ought to be fair and impartial and give enough attention to issues that can raise eyebrows or make people uncomfortable. After all personal comfort should come second to human suffering, environmental destruction or any other issues where violation of what is humane, ethical and respectful is evident.
So go ahead, talk about Trump and his undignified approach to politics, talk about mines and the site C dam, about pipelines and wars unfolding far away. Allow your children to pipe in and voice their opinion. It’s their world too. We may be personally attached to one issue or another and become reactive when another brings it up (case in point: mines and pipelines). Yet healthy debates can lead to exactly what benefits both sides: consideration and respect for people and the environment. Ethics. It’s possible to have it good in many ways, much better than we do, if we stand up, listen, speak our mind and respectfully learn and educate at the same time. It’s a win-win.
So yes, we talk politics. Now you know why.