My daughter graduated high school yesterday in what I called the Chic-fil-A graduation ceremony. We rolled in one side of an empty auditorium they took her order, called her name and she walked across the stage by herself grabbed her diploma case off of a pedestal, we cheered and as we exited on the other side of the auditorium her counselor handed her the official diploma -- said congratulations and like Chic-fil-a it was efficient and expeditious.
As I reflect on my daughter's journey, every milestone in her young life seemed to be married to some horrific and tragic moment in American history, played out in real-time. The high school class of 2020 has gone through some traumatic experiences. I’m sure that a lot of these children are suffering from some form of PTSD
These children were born into a state of unrest because of 9/11 in 2001. Instead of a senior year making college decisions, going to proms and preparing to step into a world that is already unkind. They were put on house arrest, deprived of normal graduation unable to say goodbye to their friends due to a global pandemic. To top that off they were able to watch Ahmaud Arbery get hunted down and killed like an animal in the streets and witness the brutal unforgiving murder of George Floyd by the police which led to rioting and protest throughout the world.
I love my daughter but here are some of the traumatic conversations that we’ve had in her short life many of which I did not have the answers to her questions:
2003 Spaceship Columbia breaks up re-entering the earth's atmosphere. Seven astronauts were killed. We were watching it. 2003 Iraq War - all news was missile attacks on Baghdad playing live on tv like a movie series (this is when we stopped watching the news) 2005 Hurricane Katrina hundreds killed hundreds of displaced thousands 2008 Financial markets crashed - my daughter had friends that were pulled out of school as their parents lost their homes. 2008 Obama becomes the first black president. This was great but I had to have conversations about why the white kids were treating her differently. 2011 Osama Bin Laden. The US had kids scared that all Muslims were terrorists and my daughter had Muslim friends. 2012 Trayvon Martin (17) shot and killed by George Zimmerman, which had my daughter fearing for her brother's life 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, I ran in the 2012 marine corp marathon. I was asked not to run again 2014 Michael Brown was shot by a policeman in Ferguson sparking nationwide rioting and protests. 2014 Tamir Rice (12) was shot and killed by police officer Timothy Loehmann while playing with a toy gun. From that point on black kids could no longer play with toy guns. 2015 White supremacist killed 9 Black people at church in Charleston 2015 Muslim couple killed 14 and wounded 21 others at an office party in San Bernardino, California 2016 as a Freshman Donald Trump was elected president which again led to conversations of bigotry amongst school-age kids 2016 Alton Sterling Shooting by police 2017 Protest in Charlottesville white supremacist drive into crowds of people 2018 Botham Shem killed in his apartment by Amber Guyger, a police officer who walked into the wrong apartment, which sparked a nationwide protest. 2020 We all know what happened.
Sometimes I get on my children for not being focussed or I tell them that they are not working hard enough. But when I look back a the road my daughter has traveled to cross the stage, I have a better understanding of what these kids are going through. Every generation has its ups and downs, but this generation gets to watch everything in real-time and have to try and make sense of it all when no one is providing any answers. More than any other time in American history children are suffering from anger management issues, anxiety, depression alcoholism, and drug abuse.
We have to pray for these children and show more empathy. Though they may have all the technology and perceived opportunity this has come with a cost and the mental health of these kids are paying the price. I would be insane if I spent 75% of my time in the thoughts of random individuals on social media. I would go crazy if I felt that my self-worth was based on the comments of followers I don't know personally and will never have any physical impact on my life. But these are real issues that this generation faces with no measures in place to help them cope with all the madness.
I say this to anyone with children: tell them you love them every day, let them know that you understand, and if you don't be willing to listen unbiased. No one has a child that doesn't want them to inherit a better world to live in, I think that we are moving backward and the high statistics of suicide by children and young adults is proof. With the recent events of police brutality and global pandemic, I hope these events have awakened the masses to understand that we all have to be the change that we want to see or life as we know it won't exist for our great-grandchildren.
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Last modified on Friday, 12 June 2020 21:06