When it became clear to President Barack Obama that Donald Trump would be his successor, he had to figure out what to tell his two teenage daughters. In an interview conducted by the New Yorker‘s David Remnick over the course of the week leading up to the election and shortly thereafter, POTUS revealed the lesson he passed on to Sasha and Malia — one that could be useful for many Americans not sure of what to do with their post-election angst.
What I say to them is that people are complicated. Societies and cultures are really complicated…This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding. And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop…You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.
The President’s words can certainly help in a time when many parents are wondering how to talk to their children about what the future holds in the face of a Trump administration.
What POTUS is making clear in talking about the way he talked to his own teenage children about the election results is that life is indeed “messy.” Yet, despite the mess, that shouldn’t prevent anyone from continuing to fight for their beliefs and the rights of the oppressed and marginalized. The choice of the electoral college doesn’t predicate one’s own personal choices. And each of us can, indeed, always elect “to keep moving it forward.”