As parents, the recent U.S. election has raised both immediate and long-term questions. Throughout the campaign, we wondered whether to share or shield our children from the increasingly divisive and disturbing rhetoric. How could we instill positive values of civility, diversity, and care for others? Now that the election is over, how can we demonstrate our commitment to democratic values and our pluralistic society? Our son, in fourth grade at Levey Day School and studying the election, has made short work of these generalities. Levey celebrates the religious, racial, and class diversity of its students, and he has personally experienced the process of expanding his circle of concern and awareness to encompass those in other communities, even in other countries. He has experienced working through problems collaboratively, has seen the power of civil dialogue, and has learned how to try new things, even when that puts him in a position of initial discomfort or uncertainty.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said “If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible.” As adults contemplate what the next months and years will bring, we know that repair – regardless of political perspective or affiliation – will always be our task. We feel so grateful that Levey has given our child a foundation of ethical reasoning, respect, and empowerment. The values he has learned have become a fundamental part of who he is and who he will become. He is learning to be discerning and thoughtful, to question his own assumptions through listening to the perspective of others, and to protect and defend those who are marginalized or in the minority.
We want our child to be smart, happy, and successful in whatever ways are most meaningful to him. More than that, we want him to be someone who helps repair the world. At Levey, he learns and practices these skills every day.
Molly Curren Rowles is the Assistant Director of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine and a former Staff Attorney and Manager at Pine Tree Legal Assistance. She serves on Levey Day School’s board and is a proud parent of a Levey 4th grader.