When my children were little, their bus driver was a family acquaintance. She was a “good ole girl” from Harnett county. We had met when our kids played little league.
One day while driving to school, the bus was in an accident, a minor fender bender. As I got my children off the bus, the driver said, “We were in an accident. We got hit by some Mexicans.” Now, that sounds innocuous but it was the way she said it that made me uncomfortable.
Later that day as my daughter was retelling the story, I heard those same words come out of my her mouth, “some Mexicans.” She said it with the same disdain I had heard in her bus driver’s voice. My heart sank. My daughter had never met anyone from Mexico. She had never heard that phrase from her parents, but in that moment she had learned something must be wrong with people from Mexico.
Of course, I used that moment to teach my daughter. I don’t remember what I said, but I think I said, “you were hit by people. It was an accident and we don’t use the phrase, “some Mexicans.”
Children pick up on our disdain for others. So when you say things like, “Muslims want to kill us.” You are teaching them to fear an entire group of people “Mexicans are coming over here to rape and kill us.” You are teaching your children to hate. And if you give fear and hatred an inch in their heart, it will eventually take more ground.
Our words have power! That bus driver’s words that day had power over my impressionable daughter. Let our talk as well as our actions teach our children the power of unity. When we hear family members or people in authority say things that promote hate and division, we must teach our children truth and not nod and agree. If we truly want unity, we can’t wish for it, we must teach it, we must live it, we must champion for it.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 NASB
PS: My daughter today is the most inclusive person I know. She unconditionally accepts people. Her wedding was attended by people from varying ethnicities, Christians, Pre-Christians, homosexuals, old, young. It was beautiful.