Responses to events in the news

The attacks in Paris are very upsetting. The attacks in Beirut and the fires in Indonesia and earthquake in Japan and the Syrian’s fleeing their country and all the other places that are experiencing suffering of some kind, it’s upsetting. I’m very glad that, of my friends at least, I’m not seeing this turn into any anti-Muslim or anti-refugee or anti-immigrant rallying point. I’m glad that my friends are not that short sighted to think that a small group of extremists reflect on the majority of peaceful people. As I’ve said before, I have many students in my class this year and in previous years who are immigrants, who are Muslim, and even some refugees in the past, and I will turn all mama bear on anyone who would try to tell me that they are bad just because of their religion or the country of their birth or the country of their parents’ birth.

I worry about how to talk about these events with my students, because I know they’ll want to discuss it tomorrow in class. I think it’s important for them to know what’s going on in the world, it helps them to become caring global citizens. But these things are pretty scary. Luckily, when I was listening to RDC yesterday after my run, they were discussing just this issue. They were saying how it’s difficult to find sources of information about news events that are geared towards children where it’s not talking down to them and giving all the facts in a way that children can understand. They suggested a BBC website called Newsround. This site shows all the latest news from around the world geared towards children and one thing I really appreciated is that they have an article about what to do if you’re upset by the news. It has advice for children about what they can do if they find the news upsetting. For example, it says:

Some stories reported by Newsround can make you feel sad – but you are not the only one and it’s OK to have those feelings.

Upsetting events often make the news because they don’t happen very often.

Throughout the site they show examples of, not only the upsetting events, but also showing the helpers, showing the peaceful responses across the globe to tragedy. I think it’s important that children see that revenge and retaliation aren’t the way to deal with issues.

I’m a big Doctor Who fan. The latest two parter episode did something that I love, actually, it’s one of the big reasons that I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy in general, because they can show big, real issues but from a different perspective without seeming preachy because they’re dealing with aliens or elves, not immigrants or religious extremists. Anyway, in these two episodes they were dealing with a problem where this race of aliens had settled on the Earth and were trying to blend in. There was a peace accord but now a small group of extremists wanted to rise up, destroy the peace and take over the planet. Between one government official wanting to spontaneously destroy all the aliens and the leader of the extremists wanting to kill all the humans and take over the world, the Doctor had to try to solve the problem with as little lives lost as possible. Sounds impossible.

Doctor Who

I was worried about how they were going to solve this. Doctor Who gets very dark sometimes and people die because it reflects reality. I won’t spoil the ending because maybe you watch the show and maybe you’re not up to date on the latest episodes.

Likewise, my husband and I were watching Star Trek TNG last night (I know, I’m a huge geek and I’m proud of it) and again, there was an episode that was so obviously a parallel to real world events. The Cardassians had forcibly removed the Bajorans from their home world and now the Bajorans have been resettled on other planets, living in poverty. Sound familiar? And again, there was no easy answer in this episode, just like there’s no easy answer in real life, but what I love about the kind of Sci-Fi that I watch and read is that they show how revenge just creates more pain, not less, and that diplomacy and empathy will get you much further than guns and bombs. I want to believe that this is true in real life as well.

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