For many people, December marks a time of goodwill. From Hanukkah and Christmas to Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve, this month is a period when most of New York gets together with family and friends. It’s not only the religious either; lapsed Catholics and non-practicing Jews still go home for the holidays or at least attend the holiday meal. And even atheists cannot walk the streets without seeing the holiday lights and festivities, and again the message behind them of generosity and benevolence.
We need that message now more than even amidst our tumultuous political climate. Everyone is so heated about his or her party, and countless holiday get-togethers will be tarnished with raised voices on both sides of the aisle. It’s hard to see a truce as a possibility when simple basic human rights are being put on the chopping block for discussion.
Yes, it is incredibly difficult to keep quiet when you hear insane rants being thrown around the dinner table … but a holiday with children all around is never a time to argue (and the mix of personalities combined with liquor do result in a certain lethal combination). However, the holidays should be child-centered, for them and also for us.
The truth is that kids know way more than we do. Children could teach us all a lesson in life. Look at the typical 5 year old in your family. Chances are he goes to school with vastly different races, religions, and economic backgrounds. But he doesn’t see that; instead he sees his friend. Just by being in the same class, kids realize that all belong and are each an important part. They are each expected to respect each other and their teacher. They help one another. They share. They do what is right. They feel bad when a fellow classmate is upset. They care about the feelings of their classmates.
There is a common belief that babies are born with everything they need to know, with a strong connection to heaven, knowing they chose us for their parents, knowing they are good. Even the non-religious might be able to see the truth there. It’s easy to recognize that children aren’t born with hate. They aren’t racist, or sexist, or judgmental. They are not bullies. Those things are learned. And yes, unfortunately, they are often learned at the dinner table or on the couch or when damaging words are hurled within an earshot of a child quietly playing.
“If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children.”—Mahatma Gandhi
Danielle Sullivan is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @Deewrite.