Inauguration, Part 2

If you saw my blog post on Tuesday night, you know that I had the privilege of attending the inauguration of President Barack Obama on Monday.

While this blog focuses on connecting children to nature and to other cultures, I believe a discussion about our Presidential Inauguration fits in any discussion about culture, since the way a nation governs itself is part of its culture.

Case in point: Before the inauguration began, an activist climbed a nearby tree and refused to come down. He screamed horrible things about the President throughout the entire ceremony. To say it was annoying would be an understatement. The crowd shouted random comments to try to get him to stop. A spontaneous chanting of "Shake the tree!" even erupted.

But then one woman yelled, "Respect the Constitution and stop yelling for a few minutes!"

My husband and I looked at each other and said, "I don't think she understands the Constitution." And in that moment, I realized that, yes, I was annoyed by the man the tree, but I am SO thankful to live in a country where he can speak his mind.

In many other parts of the world he could be jailed or "disappear" or be shot out of a tree for speaking against the government. As much as I hated his words, I'd never take away his right to speak them. That's part of living in a democratic society. We have the right to speak our minds.

I love to travel and that travel has helped me embrace other worldviews. It has also shown me things that could be improved in our country and made me value the rights I have as a woman and citizen of this country.

So what does this all have to do with you? Please take the time to teach your children to be engaged citizens. Talk to them about how our government works. Discuss the candidates and the issues around your dinner table. Research the facts together. Make sure YOU vote, and take them with you to see you do it. Then, when they turn 18, take them to register to vote.

Our nation needs informed citizens and meaningful, respectful discourse. We need our children to learn how to participate and then choose to do so.

How do you help your children learn about our government and civic engagement?

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