When kids are the adults in the room

White Nonsense-ville has been through a tumultuous few months. It started when a high school football player and a cheerleader took a knee during the national anthem. As expected some members of the community supported the students while others did not.

People took to Facebook to argue and name-call and threaten the students. They threatened children.

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As autumn progressed, local elections took center stage. A long-time politician (read: middle aged white man) faced a challenge from a non-middle aged, non-white, non-man.

The tone quickly turned sour with municipal employees contacting the media with allegations of mistreatment. A bitter divorce made a media headline. Rumors swirled and residents attended municipal meetings and took again to social media to express displeasure and disgust.

These community upheavals are not usual in White Nonsense-ville. The majority of residents hold at least one advanced degree and pride themselves (with or without evidence) on being a quiet town where nothing happens.

Now all of a sudden, neighbors were behaving badly. Friends were posting heretofor unexpressed and offensive opinions. In short, the grownups were freaking out.

Thank goodness, then, for the children. Those minors who are not old enough to vote or buy a lottery ticket were demonstrating reasonable behavior for the adults.

Among those children is a group of high school students who hold conservative view points, mostly around social issues.

Despite accounts of being called names and traitors to their race and being marked down on papers, this group of students who are not old enough to vote sat in a classroom and told me they want more than anything to listen to others and be heard by others.

There was no holocaust denying. Not one of the students wore a white hood or said that black lives don’t matter. They were reasoned, measured, wide-eyed and sincere.

They said they take the ridicule from their peers and choose to defend themselves rather than ask an adult to defend them. They willingly suppress their own opinions in order to get a better grade.

Listen first, speak later. Know your audience. Respect others and understand that expressing your opinion may yield a negative response. If these are the kids we’re sending into the world, there’s hope for us yet.

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