My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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10 Things Parents Can Learn from the Covington High School Students at the March for Life

March for Life 2015
American Life League via Flickr, licensed cc.

Early Sunday morning, I got a text from my sister. She told me that some celebrity  was saddened by the way students from Covington High School had acted at the March for Life last weekend. 

I was a little stunned. I know a lot of the families that go to the March every year. They're all good people. 

They'd have to be. It's not an easy ride to make in the middle winter. In fact, one year my nephew got caught on a bus that had to spend the night on the turnpike because of the weather. As Matt Walsh said last week, none of the marchers are getting anything out of this. They're not marching for special rights or recognition. It's really a selfless act to make it to Washington DC every January. 

Every year, the news media pretty much ignores the March. But I also thought it wouldn't take much for that to change if the media found a way to discredit or smear the marchers. I hoped that the Covington Students hadn't provided that. 

Two news days later, not only had the media spin been proven wrong, but the students involved and their families were fighting to take back the narrative, despite the death threats and hate speech all over social media. 

So as Catholic parents, here are some things I think we need to learn from this. 

1. Cameras are everywhere. Anyone with a smartphone has one. The footage that showed the apparent confrontation between Nick Sandmann and Nathan Phillips was primarily from cell phones taken by bystanders. Our kids have to be made aware of that. Anything can and will be recorded. 

2.  Whoever gets and edits that footage has the power. 
When this first came out, it looked like high school junior Nick Sandmann was deliberately getting into Native American Activist, Nathan Phillips' face. It wasn't until later video became public that it was apparent that Phillips walked up to Sandmann, not the other way around. 

As parents, it's not enough to think that the actions of our children will be clearly understood. Actions and even inaction can be construed by whatever narrative tells it first. Kids need to be aware of that. 

3.  Events like the March for Life are potentially volatile situations. We can't assume that everyone at the event will be like-minded and peaceful. There will always be other people there looking for conflict. Issues such as abortion are lightning rods for open confrontation. Kids need to be prepared for that as well. 

4.  Symbols matter.
A few years ago, my 20-something son, Calvin,  was sitting in a coffee shop looking at his phone. He had a Don't Tread On Me pin on his backpack. 
Image result for don't tread on me
Another man in the store kept walking past my son, glaring at him. Finally, he confronted Calvin by asking him why he was such a homophobe!  Calvin couldn't figure out what he was talking about until the man pointed out the pin on his backpack. 

Calvin invited the man to sit down and have a discussion. The man gave him the finger and walked out. 

Moral of that story - some people are easily triggered by symbols. Many of those same people are nuts. 

Calvin was lucky that this guy confronted him in the coffee shop, but what if he had been in the parking lot? 

Likewise, the Make America Great Again slogan and red hat is a trigger for a lot of people. If someone chooses to wear that hat or the slogan in a T-shirt or something, they need to be prepared for potential consequences. 

Jeff Cirillo via FLickr, licensed cc. 

Calvin is 6 foot 2, 200 + pounds, athletic, a good fighter, and has his CCW. He is prepared. 

I don't think most high school students or chaperones are as prepared. As parents, we need to protect them accordingly. 

5.  Silence can be a powerful form of protest. It can also be the best response to taunting and bullying. But I think it's hard for younger people, like high school students to pull that off. Nick Sandmann's smile at the Indian beating a drum in his face was called a smirk. He was trying to be nonaggressive and passive. At least they can't use his words against him; he didn't give them any ammunition!

But on the other hand, it's hard to pull off a completely neutral look when you're only 16 years old. A better option, in my opinion, would have been to look down and/or move aside to avoid being seen as confrontational. 

6.  Choose a chant or song before being confronted.
When Dr. King marched, he and his followers sang We Shall Overcome. It quickly became their peaceful anthem. Maybe before schools leave for the March next year, they should prepare a school song or hymn that they will sing if they are ever confronted like the Covington High School students. 

I think a song will be more effective than a chant. The kids chanted something that was probably more appropriate for a football game. It came off as aggressive and the words were difficult to understand clearly. Perhaps an arrangement of Let There Be Peace on Earth? or something similar would work better.

7. No such thing as solidarity anymore. 
60 years ago, Rock and Roll emerged, partly for Rhythm and Blues and African American music. It became part of the larger culture. 

I'm not sure that something like that can happen anymore. Everyone calls for diversity, but diversity apparently doesn't mean joining in or sharing in. Just ask the high school girl that tried to wear an orientally themed prom dress. Imitation is not considered flattering, but inflammatory. 

So, of course, joining in with Native American Chants or doing the tomahawk chop, is not seen as trying to come together, or celebratory, but as divisive and offensive. Tell your teens. 

8.  You can't negotiate with activists. So don't even try. In a public arena like that, they are out to get seen and be heard. It's not a place for sharing ideas or solving differences. They're not there for that. Let it go. 

9.  For all of this chaperones matter!  High school students don't have the life experience or wisdom to know how to act or what to do in difficult situations. The chaperone that gave permission for the school chant was clearly a bit naive as well. Chaperones need to be prepared to handle tough, potentially heated situations and they have to have the respect of their charges so that they can move them out of the way quickly and without delay. If Covington High school was at any fault it was in not having enough thoroughly prepared chaperones and not having contingency plans. 

10.  They don't have your back
School officials and the Diocese of Covington were more than ready to condemn their students without hearing both sides. So know this ahead of time. If you send a group to the March next year, you will more than likely be on your own if anything happens. Parents and students need to plan accordingly, and then rigorously stick to that plan together! You'll probably be on your own. 

This content uses referral links. That means if you make a purchase or click a link, I may make a small commission - just enough to support my diet coke habit. And there is no extra charge to you. It's
 a win/win! Read our disclosure policy