Scene: Morning. Interior of the minivan. 12 year-old daughter rides in passenger seat. Mother drives. 5 year-old son rides in back seat.
Mother: (frustrated and disheartened by the current trend toward hatred of white men.) I mean, I’m worried for my two sons. Born white and born male. But they’re going to grow up being told that they’re the root of all evil. They’re essentially bad before they even get a chance to be good.
Daughter: (young but trying to process the world as she sees and hears it on Facebook) People are so mean to each other all the time. I don’t understand.
Mother: (not meaning to be on a rant, but knowing many white men who are not racists, misogynists, over privileged jerks and getting pretty tired of hearing that they all are.) We’ve made this mistake before—blaming a group of people for the ills of the world, making assumptions based on color and gender. You think we’d know better. It’s not the white man’s TURN to take the blames, it’s TIME to knock this off, learn from our mistakes and do better than this.
From the back seat comes the sweet, still high-pitched voice of the five-year old son.
Son: I want to be a good man, not a bad man.
(A little sliver of my heart shucks off and slides around in my chest. Yes, this play is real.)
Me: Oh, honey, you will be a good man.
Son: How do I be a good man?
(World stops. Here it is. The stage darkens, spotlight comes on and words pour out. Words that I better say now before someone else tells him he’s the problem with this world, that he’s to blame to for all the hate and that there will never be a chance for people to come together in any sort of understanding way because of him. That we will never learn from our past and be better for it.)
Me: You can be a good man by being kind. Being nice and respectful. By not being mean and saying hurtful things. You can help people who need help. You can treat everyone with love. (Then it occurs to me who I’m telling him to model himself after.) You can be like Jesus. Jesus was a good man. The best man. He loves everyone no matter who they are, what they’ve done, what they might do. He went out of his way to speak to the people that other people didn’t like. He was kind and loving. God went to a lot of trouble to make you just like you are and that’s how He meant you to be. You are very special. So, you have to think that if He went to that much trouble for you, that He did that for everyone. If He loves you, He loves everyone. You might not always agree with someone and you might not even like them, but you can still be kind and respectful. That’s how you be a good man.
Son: I’m going to be a good man.
Me: (tears welling) I know you are, honey. I know you are.
(Whether your follow Jesus or not, how to be a good man (person) is pretty simple. There are examples of good men and women everywhere, in every culture, religion and creed. Be good. Do good. Our children are listening to what we say. Say good.)