My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Post I Didn't Intend to Write

Okay, so I really didn't plan on this... but I've read SO many posts in other blogs (followed regularly and not) about the recent election that the peer pressure finally got to me.  Or maybe it's just all the internal pressure that's had me wanting to scream on a daily basis since about 2:30am November 9th. Whatever the case, I wanted to say something here to vent some of that pressure so I can get back to blogging in a more normal fashion. (No, our lives have not been put on "hold" as a result of the outcome, I haven't blogged lately because I've had to concentrate on other projects.)

I also wanted to give a little more background on the family that has been so blessed by the addition of the Pipsqueak.

We (Pipsqueak included!) are NOT pleased with the outcome of the election. Never mind the odd workings of the Electoral College and its disenfranchisement of millions of voters from all parties. Never mind that many more people voted for the 2nd place candidate than for the winner (the difference has surpassed one million votes). Never mind that all those votes are still being counted but the election was considered over and done with long before that count even really began.

Our problem as a family with the outcome is (among what we see as a disturbingly long list of negatives) the hatred, intolerance, bigotry, and lack of respect that seems to have been made into The American Way.

Miri has always been taught, either directly by example, the same thing Mommy and Uncle Brian were taught: There are good people in the world and there are bad people in the world. Sometimes you can't always tell which is which at first, and sometimes even good people will do things that are bad -- usually,  but not always, by accident. It doesn't matter if they're boys or girls, big or little, from America or from China or from any other place; it doesn't matter what religion they follow, what language they speak, or what tone of which color their skin might be.  They are people, and we treat people the way we want to be treated until they make it obvious that we need to ignore them and/or stay away from them.

She is being taught these lessons not just by our example, but by the very structure of our family. We, Miri's immediate family,  are Jewish and identify ourselves as such at least culturally if not religiously. Seems obvious... but if anyone widens their field of view just enough to include our circle of 1st and 2nd cousins, aunts and uncles, the picture gets a lot more interesting. We've got Jewish relatives scattered across the USofA. We've got Protestant cousins. We've got Muslim cousins. We've got cousins who identify themselves as Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, even a Wiccan or two (along with some undecideds and probably at least 1 or 2 other "minor" religions I've momentarily forgotten about). And we come in lots of sizes, shapes, flavors, and colors -- representing every major ethnographic group you're likely to think of, save Eskimo or Pacific Islander (and I'm not sure I haven't forgotten someone).[1]

The Pipsqueak hasn't met all these cousins yet, but has a pretty good collection in hand already and as far as she's concerned they may not look quite the same as each other but they're all family and that is that. She's just beginning to wrap her head around the idea of having two mommies, but has never shown any sign of having a problem with the crazy mix of ethnicities, religions, and nationalities that are her family (and, to her credit, her friends).

So now we are worried. Oh, sure, we've all had concerns from Day One based on an international and transracial adoption, but now we're really worried.  All of a sudden the alt-right is Mainstream Politics, hate speech is a daily occurrence in the media, and there's an apparent trickle-down effect that's had some minor but disturbing comments come from one or two classmates. How will she react to constantly hearing her Muslim cousins are terrorists? How will she react to increased negative statements that people who aren't "real" Americans need to leave or be sent away? How will she react to the increasingly vocal anti-semitism we're seeing?

There are a lot of potential negatives coming out of this election, the worst of which is the apparent mainstreaming of all the hate speech and bigotry and "us versus them" divisiveness that paints Miri as one of "them." We're keeping our eyes and ears open, listening between the lines when she talks about school, or what she overheard the other day, or just the kind of things she's asking us about. We're always trying to reinforce the idea that every kind of person can be good or bad, that it comes down to that one person and not everyone who has something in common with them.

We're making an effort to make sure that for every horror story she hears, she'll also hear about a real-life example of people from different backgrounds gathering together to support and help each other. We're continuing the lessons about turning away & distancing herself from negative people instead of keeping herself in their crosshairs. We're continuing to teach her that "different" means "not the same" and NOT "better" or "worse" or "good" or "bad" -- just not the same, which makes the world a much more interesting place.

We all expect the next four years to be "interesting" as in the old Chinese curse about living in interesting times... likely with after-effects extending for years. But during that time we will continue striving to teach Miri to deal with individuals as individuals & to remain proud of who and what she is and her background. We will continue trying to give her the tools she needs to deal with those who hold beliefs different from her own, both those who do so positively and those who do so negatively. We will continue to teach her that all people can be good or bad and that how she deals with each person may help determine which side she sees... and how to deal with those who insist on showing her the bad no matter how she deals with them.

And -- no problem here at all! -- we will continue to make sure she knows how much she's loved.  :-)

I may not always be able to prevent myself from making negative comments about how the incoming administration is looking or posting news stories about it on Facebook, but the bottom line is that I'm striving to teach my niece (by example) how to deal with the Good and the Bad and all that lies in between... and that everyone is potentially "us" and not "them."

I sincerely hope we're all doing that. We will see. 


[1] The religious, ethnic, and geographic mix of the extended family is so varied that many years ago I jokingly told Mom that the only way I could stand out from the crowd was to marry a Caucasian Jewish girl from the US... and then Cousin H went and did that, so now I'd literally have to hook up with someone from another planet. (Secure in the knowledge that if I did, most of my relatives would welcome her with a smile. And probably too much food.)

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