Recognizing Our Differences: Kids in Cages and the Great Political Divide

It felt pretty nice getting invited to play cards with four women, three of whom I had just met, during a weekend boating event on Father’s day weekend. I’m not a card player so I had to concentrate on the rules – 7 decks of cards with rules changing every hand.

At one point, my mind drifted to the men conversing on the back deck.

“I can’t believe they are talking about politics,” I said.

“Oh, it’s okay,” said one of the wives, “They all feel the same way. They are all on the same side.”

“Julie doesn’t feel the same way as we all do here,” she continued, “Julie feels differently,” she said, looking down at her cards.

“How do you have any idea what I think or feel?” I quietly responded. It wasn’t the best response, but I was so taken aback that I couldn’t come up with anything better.

“Because I follow you on Facebook.”

“I make an effort not to be political on Facebook.”

“Yes, but once you slipped. And I noticed it, and made a mental note. Cha-ching, there it is, I said to myself, I should remember this.”

I dropped it like a hot potato.

Inside, I was flashing back to 1974. I was standing in front of my locker at Byron Junior High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It’s 7th grade. Two girls walked up to me, both named Ellen. One of the Ellens (the one with the sharper jaw line) said, “We don’t like your outfit,” and they sauntered away. Bitches. If there were a way to disappear, to beam up and out, I would have done it. Instead, I stood there staring into my locker, embarrassed and ashamed. I’d give anything to help out the 7th grade me! I’d have the correct response to those snotty brats and then I’d brush it off knowing that I really didn’t give a shit what they thought of my outfit. Who were they anyway? The 7th grade style police?

Back to 2018, the 57-year-old me thought a great deal about her comments. Our government changed the policy of charging refugees coming across our border with felonies so the adults would be forced to enter our criminal justice system as suspected felons, which automatically sends them into prison. Since they can’t let kids into jail, the kids were being ripped from their parents and housed in detention centers. Consequently, our government is traumatizing thousands of kids. Plenty of moral and ethical human beings were speaking out against this policy so it was huge in the news and on social media. Prominent pediatricians who visited the detention centers testified to the current status of the suffering children, and spoke about the long-term effects this type of abuse would most likely cause. Former First Lady Laura Bush made an impassioned speech to shine a light on the horror in an attempt to move our government in the right direction, the direction of human decency.

That was what was going on the weekend of this card game. I imagined that if I sat down with that one woman, or maybe even all four of the card-playing women, and talked about that one issue, this enormous heart wrenching humanitarian crisis, we would all be on the same page.

Later that night, that woman showed up at our boat with a half bottle of Chardonnay just to chat. Maybe she felt bad, I thought. I didn’t share with my husband what had gone on until later and he laughed that I was ousted as a liberal.

The thing is… some of these issues can’t be liberal or conservative, democrat or republican. Some of these issues are so core to what it means to be a good person that it must transcend politics. And the defense the conservatives used that they didn’t make the law is stupid. They changed the policy so the law worked differently – don’t they understand that? Do they not want to understand that?

Eventually the roar of decent humans prevailed and Trump rescinded the policy of making the refugees have a felony status so that their families could remain together. But that did nothing to address the sickening fact of the thousands of kids still in detention, some so young that getting biographical information from them in order for lawyers and social workers to try to find their parents is damn near impossible. Millions of dollars have been raised and hundreds of good decent human beings are working to try to help separated families get back together.

TogetherRising.org has a running list of where you can help, and what your money is doing in good hands on the ground. It helped my shock and horror to donate to TogetherRising.org because I know the money is funding lawyers and social workers through various already established social service agencies working to find the parents of these kids. They started with babies and kids up to 10 years of age. Can you imagine the trauma of these kids? One of the pediatricians that visited the detention site said she witnessed a toddler wailing inconsolably on the floor, screaming and crying for her mother. It’s chilling.

So yes, I feel differently than the humans on that boat that day. But if they are really human beings with one ounce of human decency, I want to believe that we feel the same, at least on that issue.

Maybe on some of the other issues that are tearing me apart, like sensible gun control so we can send our children to school and know they will not be used for target practice, “intelligent” minds might disagree.

Please share your thoughts. . .
By |2018-07-03T09:59:21+00:00July 4th, 2018|Mindful Methods|

About the Author:

Julie Potiker
Author and mindfulness expert Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She was trained by Kristin Neff, Christopher Germer and UCSD as a Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher. She went on to study with Rick Hanson, becoming a graduate of his Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course. Potiker also completed Brené Brown’s Living Brave Semester. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” She holds a B.G.S. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from George Washington University.

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