Celebrating Differences (and Teaching Our Kids to Do the Same)

“Dear ______, Stop _______.”

– the formula for titling your next culturally relevant blog post

These “open letters” are all. over. Facebook. All the time.

Have you seen them?

Something like:

Dear White People, Stop Saying “All Lives Matter”.

Dear Black People, Stop Protesting on Highways.

Dear Police Officers, Stop the Excessive Force.

Dear Everyone, Stop Assuming all Muslims are Terrorists.

Dear Republicans/Democrats/Liberals, Stop …..

Everyone wants to be treated equally (rightly so, obviously) yet we create all these rules and stipulations for how we relate to someone who is different than us. We have an army of writers and Facebloggers writing extensive bullet point lists of things each type of human can and can’t say, can and can’t do towards another type of human.

It leaves us in this awkward space where we either

can’t celebrate our differences because we can’t acknowledge our differences (“well I certainly don’t want to offend”),

OR

think we are so different we can’t find a way to do anything together, let alone celebrate.

It’s exhausting.

It’s also overwhelming.

You can drown in the weight of trying to understand all the sadness and divisiveness, let alone trying to explain it to your kids.

Police killing unarmed citizens. Armed citizens killing police. Terrorists plowing down families with a bus. Terrorists shooting children at a McDonalds.

Not to mention politics. Oh my heavens.

Everyone is losing their ever-loving minds.

I mean…can we even move forward at this point or should we all just buy those Home Depot storm shelter bunker things and wait it out with our own kind until Jesus returns?

(I’d vote the latter but we tried the floor sample out at our last trip there and the metal bench is most uncomfortable.)

Loving Tangibly

Silence doesn’t really help. Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t really help. “Sending good thoughts” doesn’t really help. Writing blog posts about all the things someone else should quit doing doesn’t really help.

You know what would help? Doing. Learning about our differences and finding ways to celebrate others. Breaking our silence and loving tangibly.

And how about instead of pointing fingers here and there we start in our own homes?

It doesn’t have to be a series of life-changing events; simple intentionality can have a profound impact.

For instance, our home is ruled by a gaggle of volatile tiny humans, so our options for changing the world are somewhat limited.

But still.

We’re finding ways.

Here’s how:

  1. Praying through Ramadan

During the months of June/July, our family (along with our church and Mission Resource Network) prayed for different Muslim nations throughout the world.

Each day we watched a Prayercast video to learn about a specific country and to pray for the people of that nation.

It was a great way to expand our view of God’s kingdom. The boys loved seeing the colors and hearing the sounds of different people across the world, and it led to great discussions about how vast God’s love for ALL of His people is.

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Obviously Ramadan is over now, but the PrayerCast website has videos at the ready 24/7, a great activity to do solo or with kids or spouses or siblings or parents.

2. Thanking Law Enforcement

After the recent police shootings, we invited a few tiny friends over for a card-making play date.

We each made a stash of thank you cards to keep in our cars, ready to hand out when we see police officers in our area.

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A few days later, we spotted an officer in line at Chipotle. We gave him a card and thanked him for his service. He responded with polite appreciation. All in all, kind of anticlimactic.

Until we followed him to the parking lot a few minutes later.

There he sat, behind the wheel of his cruiser, staring at the cards.

As we were about to drive away, he rolled down his window and – with actual tears in his eyes – said, “I just want to thank you again for these. I can’t tell you how much this means.”

We went home and made 20 more.

3. Diversifying our Library

We have the whitest children known to man. But those boys will never – for one second – doubt our family’s love or our God’s love for people who look different than us.

One easy way to celebrate differences is through story.

Our current favorite picks of books about diversity are:

booksI Am Martin Luther King Jr by Brad Meltzer // We March by Shane W. Evans // The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler // Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

I could say more, but I’d be doing a disservice by not directing you to my friend Casey’s post on this subject instead: Books to Help You Discuss Race With Your Kids. It’s a fantastic list of age-appropriate books.

Loving others, you guys.

PULL YOURSELVES TOGETHER and let’s figure it out.

Whatever it looks like…however big or small, whether it’s white, black, brown, or blue…let’s find ways to love tangibly.

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