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International politics, kindergarten style

Submitted by on Friday, 19 June 2009 No Comment

iranThe images from Iran caught Big Guy’s eye as I caught up on the news this evening.

“What are the people doing, Mommy,” he asked, partly out of a desire to delay sleep but mostly due to his giant-sized curiosity.

A simple question, but a complicated discussion. I struggled for the next half hour to figure out how to translate it to kindergarten level without forever painting overly simplistic pictures in his head.

“They’re in Iran, and they’re not  happy with their government,” I said. “So they’re standing in the streets complaining about it – it’s called protesting.”

“Can’t Barack Obama just make that government be good to the people,” he asked.

“No. Barack Obama isn’t in charge in Iran. Just in America,” I said, conveniently overlooking fairly recent history of American presidents who have conveniently overlooked that restriction themselves.

“Why can’t the people just vote the government out?”

Heck of a question, young man. “They just had an election, but the people who are protesting think the government cheated so the government would win.”

“How could the government cheat?”

Nothing like asking a West Virginia native for a tutorial on election fraud. “There are a lot of ways for the government to cheat,” I said.

“Does the government cheat here?” he asked.

Oh, dear. Don’t ask me to explain dangling chads and butterfly ballots. “It happens sometimes. But that’s why the people have to pay attention and get the government to listen to them.”

“And that’s what the people are trying to do?”

“Yes, but their government won’t listen. They’ll probably throw the protestors in jail.”

“But won’t the people get out of jail and start complaining again?” he asked, wrinkling his nose.

Ah, good. He gets the long-term pointlessness of totalitarian government. “They probably will, and the government will put them back in jail. Not all countries are like America. The people who created America wrote laws so that we can protest and speak out and tell the government when we think it’s wrong.”

“I like that! I wish they had that in Iran. Go, people in Iran! Keep complaining!” he cheered, pumping his fist in the air.

“I like our system here, too. We can tell the government what we think, we can write them letters, we can protest. And we don’t get thrown in jail, because we have freedom of speech and can complain about the government.”

I think our discussion went well considering the complicated nature of the issue and that one discussion participant still is waiting on Obama to declare junk food healthy so kids can eat all the French fries they want.

I suppose the true test will be in how long it takes the guys to use that “freedom of speech” protest against me. Maybe I should hide the green paint while they’re sleeping tonight.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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