I just arrived home from a trip to NYC with Cities of Service and a whole slew of sessions on increasing civic engagement and city led, citizen-powered initiatives with Mayors and city leaders from across the country. Great stuff — read some thoughts about the event and that work from Tufts Professor Peter Levine HERE Of course, check out Cities of Service and see all of the exciting civic engagement work happening in the coalition of cities across the world.
When I couple this week of learning with our current national level of schoolyard-bullying style political discourse, the news saturation of the horrifying Stanford rape case and response (both amazingly eloquent and outrageously maddening), and I can’t help but think of Father’s Day and the way I was raised.
I’ve spoken at Dad’s birthday parties and retirement roasts, and some of my very best comedic bits are straightforward re-tellings of things he did. But here’s a much more serious and succinct statement about it all:
Following a presidential election several cycles ago my siblings and I were strongly supportive of a candidate who lost badly. Dad supported the other candidate and after the election was over he called each of us to say “I know you’re disappointed. Please don’t be discouraged, please stay involved.” Not, let me tell you why you’re wrong, or let me change your politics. Just simple encouragement that discourse, involvement, learning, and governing are part of who we are as a country and our job as citizens. Don’t be discouraged, stay involved.
Dad is a combat veteran and a tremendous patriot who has endured a lot of strong criticism of the military intervention and U.S. global politics in his home. He always made space for disagreement. He asks questions, he discusses, he shares some background and perhaps some history that you’re lacking. He doesn’t say, “here’s why you’re wrong” He says “what about?” “did you know” etc. He says, “go travel widely and learn” and he does the same. He reminds you that the hallmark of an educated person is to be able to see the grey when people try to make a black and white argument…
And with regards to the Stanford case, everything that needs to be said has certainly been said (and will be read into the official national record on the floor of Congress next week) I will just say that I’m so grateful for the environment in which I was raised and after reading this article earlier this year I sent it to my Dad and thanked him for always treating me and my siblings as people capable of making their own decisions. “It’s called agency. It’s called bodily autonomy.”
Happy early Father’s Day, Dad. I hope I raise a man like you.