Friday, February 24, 2012

Hot Buttons



My daughter was probably born 40 years too late or perhaps in the correct era. She's a budding activist, this kid. Liberal side of the coin on most things, downright hippie chick complete with the "Give Peace A Chance" mentality on others. And bothered that perhaps some of her friends are not so. So, she laments to me, her mother with admittedly liberal tendencies but with the hardened apathy of someone who doesn't believe that believing will make things better any more, as she tells me the stories of the discussions she has with her girlfriends.

I almost wish it was boys. Seriously. Politics with idealistic teens is a hard concept. And these teens are smart girls. They read. They are in AP classes. No, I seriously would rather it be some boy causing all the problems.

There are always the "hot buttons." And I can guarantee that if it's made the news, if it involves controversy, Tara's got an opinion on it. The latest two hot buttons are really the same deal: Muslims and gay marriage. Tara believes in tolerance to a fault. I have always tried to be a role model for tolerance (even when I am so having difficulty succeeding). I have friends who are engaged in same-sex relationships. I know several who are married. I have friends who practice other religions, although admittedly I do not have any current friends who practice Islam at the moment. I want my daughter to grow up with an open mind. But in opening her mind, I also put her at odds with some of the traditional Carroll County values under which I was raised and some of her friends who share those values. My daughter would like society to stop typecasting Muslims as terrorists and homosexuals as flamboyant sex-crazed sinners out to turn the whole world gay by pledging their love officially for the same sex.

I am not debating right or wrong. At times, I think she is too idealistic with some of the tolerance. Her viewpoint that Jesus loves EVERYONE (really, even Osama Bin Laden and child molesters?) sometimes gives me pause. At times, she sees me as mean or intolerant of others when I crack a joke that might not be completely "politically correct." At times, I see HER as intolerant, particularly when she is intolerant of intolerance, when she cannot give one inch on a heated discussion with her friends of differing viewpoints. So, I worry about how these discussions sometimes pan out. I worry that she will ruin friendships trying to be right instead of accepting that sometimes other people have different views. She has as much a chance of that as her friends do.

See how boy issues are looking better all the time?

I would like to see her stand up for what she believes, but I also want to teach her temperance in hot-button issues. I am not advocating that she allow friends or anyone to be openly hostile or bigoted to others, but I don't think she needs to prove her friends wrong just so she can be right. It's a quandary of how to help her find that balance, especially when I don't have it myself. At times, I find myself unable to stand up for the issues about which I feel strongly. At other times, I find myself angry over someone else's different viewpoints. So, how do I help her when I'm not always sure how to balance myself. (Yep, folks, I'm admitting right here on this blog that I'm unbalanced.) But as her mother, I will keep on trying. I will keep hoping that she continues to grow into the kind, compassionate adult version of the kind, compassionate young woman she is right now.

And maybe, if I can do this feat of a balancing act, I can then work up to helping her when she has to deal with really important issues...like boys.