I was among millions who were moved by First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.
I’ve been thinking a lot about her perspective that “this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.”
What if kids had more power to shape themselves, shape their lives — shape how we raise them, how we educate and govern and interact with them? What if each election was about, in part, which candidate will gives our youngest more rights to self and societal determination, to sculpting who they want to be and what they want their society to look like?
Should having the ability to shape our lives be, at minimum, a mutual enterprise, a many-way street? Why can’t our younger citizens have more input in the civic sphere in their ‘life shaping’?
I maintain in The Philosophy of Childing that adults in key decision-making arenas have made a pretty big and continual mess of thing throughout human history, and that our youngest have suffered the most from this.
I further contend, more positively, in my book, and with a slew of compelling supportive evidence, that our children and youth citizens have an array of assets that would be of benefit to us adults (who have our own singular array of assets) – and so what we need to do is join forces with them in a far more egalitarian way than even many of the most progressive adults have given serious thought to.
Will our kids ever have more equal stature and status, and become more a part of “all men are created equal”? Will ‘childkind’ ever be given more equal stature and be placed alongside mankind, womankind, humankind?
If you check out some of the stirring, rabble-rousing declarations in the tradition of our Founders composed by our youth for our Declaration Project, perhaps you, like me, will feel put to shame by their unparalleled social conscience, calls to action — and be more inclined to give them more genuine clout in the civic sphere, recognizing that they, like all the rest of us, are both citizens in the making and citizens made.
Nancy Pelosi, for one, has called for lowering the voting age. But interestingly, one idea that has spontaneously emerged among groups of elementary, middle and high school students with whom I have held Constitution Cafe exchanges is that perhaps we need (though for far far different reasons) to revert to our original Constitution on this matter and do away with making mention of any specific age one has to be in order to vote.
My iconoclastic assertion is that, until childkind is given equal consideration and stature, children and youth will no more be able to flourish fully than our society itself.