A Lament for the Vulnerable and the Loss of Conversation

sad sculpture Sagrada Familia

I’m sad for the children and teens who live in families where they don’t feel safe to share their journeys of finding identity with their parents. And I’m sad that we don’t seem to know how to help such families, choosing rather to pit generations against each other.

I’m sad that politicians want to exploit the confusion and fear that parents have about our changing times, and they don’t seem to care that vulnerable children and teens (and the families they live in) may be the victims of the polarizing rhetoric.

I’m sad that the resulting conflict is so often met with opposing sides that toss labels at each other over a fence that keeps them apart. Attributions of hateful motivations or ideological brainwashing (while both present on occasion) are assumed far too quickly on both sides. In the public arguments, it seems incredibly rare to see the slightest attempt at finding common ground, which surely should be the best care for our children and teens. Of course, different sides will interpret “care” differently, but if we sat down with real human beings that we trusted enough to believe that they care for the vulnerable – would not an open conversation be possible?

Sexuality and gender are mysterious and complex topics. Can’t we admit that we’re all at least a little lost these days – with understandings and worldviews changing more rapidly than (I assume) ever before? Pretending that there was an old simplicity that worked fine is naïve and erases so much harm that’s been done to others. Pretending that new beliefs are clear and obviously true is equally naïve, and I fear much harm is being, and will be, done by those who try to steamroll their worldviews on others – even if they believe that they do it all in the name of justice.

If we’re going to make it through these polarized years and end up ahead of where we used to be, we’re going to need to learn the art of some difficult conversations, in which we don’t assume that “our side” has all the answers. For the sake of our children and teens, I hope that we can start having some humbler and effective conversations soon.

[This was my second attempt at writing my thoughts on this topic, and I want to acknowledge that my approach this time was softened by my listening to The Plowshare Prayer sung by Spencer LaJoye. I recommend it.]

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