Have you ever sat and listened to MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech, and I mean really stopped and absorbed it? I'm sure all of us sat through it as school children, but if has been a while then make a point to go and watch it today.
A couple of years ago, I sat with my two boys and we watched and talked about it. They are 8 and 10 now, so I know it is something we will need to watch and discuss many more times, but I want them to hear it and learn the story surrounding it. Every year on this federal holiday, we are all given the opportunity to educate our children and ourselves about the history of our country and the struggle so many fight still today. I encourage you not to let that opportunity go to waste.
The chance to learn and enlighten isn't limited to today. With each and every holiday that comes our way, regardless of whether or not we celebrate it, we are given another opportunity to educate.
The county school system where we live is currently going through the process of creating and approving the calendar for the 2016-2017 school year. They had reached the point where a decision had to be made to go with one end of the pendulum swing or the other. The choice was between either only observing state mandated holidays, removing days like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as days off, or including a Hindu and Muslim holiday into the calendar. The decision was made to include the holidays for those students and teachers, and I absolutely believe it was the right call.
Not only does it give families in our area, teachers and students, the opportunity to celebrate their holidays and traditions, it gives everyone else a chance to learn more about them. I am a Christian raising Christians, and that is a huge part of who we are, but I want my kids to be educated in a way that I wasn't.
One of the most embarrassing moment in my life came the September of my freshman year of college. Like all freshman, I was in a new place, meeting new people, and observing new customs. A few weeks into the semester it seemed like my dorm suddenly emptied, and I was immensely confused. "Where is everyone?", I asked the few folks on my floor that were left. "Uh, it's Rosh Hashanah", was what I was told, and the only thing I could say was, "Rosha-who?" They all looked at me like I was an absolute idiot, and with good reason, but that moment was the first time in my life I had ever heard those words. I had never realized until moment that there was a huge hole in my education as a member of society.
I have never felt more out of touch and uneducated in my life than I did standing in my dorm that day, and I swore I would never let it happen again. I began to ask questions when others mentioned customs I was unfamiliar with it, and found that most people were happy to answer them. If someone was to ask me what Easter was really all about I would gladly tell them, so I was not surprised by the willingness I found. Years later I took a job at the chapel at the university, and used to joke that I had to know enough about all of the various chaplaincies to not get myself in trouble. I needed to educate myself in ways I never had before.
Now that I have two children, I never want them to go through that kind of embarrassment, and the only way to do that is to educate them. Each holiday is an opportunity we can embrace..
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