View from the Left – The Upside of a Trump Presidency

I’m up early because it’s hard to sleep these days.

Work is fantastic and home life is good, but I’m constantly thinking about what’s happening to our country. As I lay awake, I realized, there has been something good that’s happened within our family and it extends to several of my friendships. We’re talking again. In a meaningful, purposeful way.

News of the day.

Growing up, Katie and I had this routine of coming together and I would always say, “Okay, news of the day,” and that would trigger her sharing highlights from her day and me mine. It was like our own little BuzzFeed. Headlines, stories, gossip, me sharing works stories, she’d share school stories, it didn’t matter it was how we connected. Then she got older and got a phone, then a car and honestly, finding time to talk became harder.

And then Trump decided to run for President.

We started connecting again. It started slowly because surely this was comedy and there he said funny things and made little sense. But when he won, it changed everything. It was time to talk and talk we did. I’ve spent the last month (is it a month yet?) talking with her every night explaining what’s been happening, how government works and what we can do to effect change. At the same time, she’s become (for her age) a voracious consumer of information, attenuating to headlines and going deep to really understand what’s true and what’s hyperbole or propaganda (the real words for fake news).

Oh yeah, I suppose we qualify as “the liberal elite”.

As a liberal elite family – I believe we qualify because we live in California, I have a master’s degree and she’s already in college – we are fiercely American. We believe in human rights, civil rights, democracy, freedom and a global economy. Katie’s traveled to more countries than I have and she’s interested in a career in journalism (I couldn’t be more proud, I think The Fourth Estate may well save us in the end).

While I fear what might happen to us based on the actions of the Trump Administration, I couldn’t be more grateful for the unintended consequence: we’ve put down our phones, come out of our homes, come together with our families, friends and community to stand up for what truly does make America great.

Mr. Trump, I fear your slogan, “Make America Great Again” is going to be your epitaph. It’s what we’ll all say after you and Bannon and anyone who rules by fear and intimidation are gone from office. Thank God it’s over, let’s make America great again.

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights: Five Family Films that will Foster Discussion

Today, around the world, bloggers are coming together to write about a single topic: Human Rights. An online event sponsored by Bloggers Unite, this effort is intended to “shine a light” on a single topic with different – lets face it millions of – perspectives from all over the globe.

When my daughter finally ends up in therapy, my mom assures me it will be because I talked her to death. I am a communications major and I love to talk. And one of the best parts of parenting is having the opportunity to have great discussions with my daughter – we talk about everything – and one subject that comes up a lot in our household is human rights.

It takes many forms and contexts, but the essential underlying theme is that all people deserve to be free – to be able to speak freely, pursue religion as they see fit and have their basic needs met – food, water, safety. Many of our discussions have happened while watching movies. As avid Netflix members, we have family movie night on Friday and Saturday nights.

Family Movie Night: Dinner and Debate

Gramma comes over, we make a good “picnic” dinner and settle in for a family film. We usually allocate about three hours because I am notorious for hitting the pause button to stop and explain what is happening, why it happens and get Katie’s perspective on what she’s seeing. This process tends to drive my mom a bit crazy, but the overall result is I have a child who understands things on a very “connected” level. And I see her bring this wisdom to the events that happening in her eight-year-old world.

So, I sat down with her last night and talked about some of the best movies we have watched and asked her which ones made lasting impressions. There have been so many, but we decided to choose our top five. We hope you watch them with your kids – and I encourage you to look at the reviews on Common Sense Media to make sure they are a fit with your values and to make you aware of what subjects may come up. Four of the links provided for each movie will take you there.

Our Top Five “Discussion” Films (in no particular order)

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Surprise! Aside from this being one of my all time favorites, it turns out there’s a rather interesting back story with the Nazi’s pursuing the Ark. We stopped during the movie to talk about Nazi Germany, the war and who owns national treasures. We also ended up discussing the Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban as an example of how some people don’t respect the values of others.

Pride

Based in fact, this story is about an African American swimmer, Jim Ellis, who deals with discrimination in different ways. The story is inspirational if not aggravating at times as it shows how race was perceived in the 1970s. We ended up having a great discussion about how man (humans) can be so cruel to one another and that we all have a responsibility to stand up when we see something bad happening. I think Katie got the concept of just because everyone does it and condones it, does not make it right.

Bend It Like Beckham

This one is great for girls (boys too) as it shows the contrast between cultures and the struggles many kids have when their parents believe in one thing and the kids they live with every day believe in something else. For us, this lead to an interesting talk about doing what you believe is right despite what your parents’ tell you to do. Is it okay to lie? What if it is for the right reasons? I believe teaching Katie to be a critical thinker is essential to helping her fight for what she believes in, including the rights of others. This movie gave us a chance to talk about values, principles, behavior and having the guts to stand by her convictions.

Pursuit of Happyness

Based on a true story, this looks at homelessness, parenting and the struggle one can have when things aren’t going well. It also demonstrates human kindness, perseverance and the power of the parent/child relationship. We talked a lot about compassion when we watched this movie. We see the homeless is our own town and some of them have children in tow. Like most kids, Katie is compelled to help. So I have given her a way to take action. I help her give her old toys and clothes to the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center and we donate regularly to the Second Harvest Food Bank. She understands we are lucky to have what we have and she feels good about sharing what we have.

Ruby Bridges

Another movie based on reality, this is a great movie about the strength of a small girl, her parents and how her strength helped change our culture. We ended up Googling the woman, Ruby Bridges, after the movie desperate to learn more about what she had become after living through such an incredible childhood. Ruby is one of the first children to attend a white school in Louisiana at the request of the NAACP. The movie is awesome as it tells the story in a way that older children will understand. Katie and I talked about racism, courage, fear, anger and honor as we watched her story play out. This is a great movie to watch with the whole family.

Do you have movies you would add to this list? I would love to hear about it. We are always looking for new movies to watch and discuss. Please add a comment and let me know!

PS: not every family movie night is mommy propaganda time – we also watch the fun ones like Ratatouille, Enchanted and Jurassic Park!