Zacharie Voting

My sons’ school is a polling place today. Alberta is having a provincial election and from 9am until 8pm, dozens, hundreds, thousands, of people will make their way through the school hallways to do their electoral duty.

What a wonderful way to engage the kids in the political process. Teachers will spend the day explaining to the kids what elections are, how we vote, and the children will get a front row seat to the political process. Even better, the school ranges from pre-school to grade 12, so there will likely be some 18 yr old high schoolers getting their first chance at voting, for real, right in their own school.

I’ve been taking the boys to vote in every election since they were born. Zacharie even helped me choose last week by taking the issues quiz and dropping my ballot in the box. He’s proud to have “voted” and is excited that an election is taking place today at his school.

Our schools should be the heartbeat of a community, and this is a perfect example of how it works.

Except people are afraid.

Some parents have expressed concerns about the school being open to general public while students are in attendance. Why? Because every other day of the school year we have to go to the office, buzz in, explain our reasons for attending, and be vetted by administration before we are admitted.

Usually if you’re picking up a student for an appointment, you are asked to wait in the office, and your child is sent there. We’re not allowed to wander the hallways. Instead of having fire drills, schools now have lockdown drills.

Except today. Today it’s fine.

So you see the disconnect? This is what happens when we train people to be afraid. We’ve spent so much time telling people that security is important and we should not have people wandering the hallways of our schools until, one day, it’s fine.

As much as we hate airport security and find it a pain in the ass, how would you feel if, one day, there was no security? You could just board a plane like you do a ferry or a bus. We have no fear boarding the bus or boat without a security check, but plane travel has taught us to be afraid. People would be nervous to fly without that inconvenient security check.

Parents are nervous that their kids are in school while people are allowed in to vote. They’ve been trained to be afraid, and so they are.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of local parents likely saw the video from Joey Salads this week. The YouTube prankster made a clip where he showed parents at a park how easy it would be to kidnap their kids with a puppy. The highly edited and staged clip spewed false stats and did nothing but propagate fear and paranoia.

The video went viral instantly because it played into the narrative that we are supposed to be afraid. When we allow fear to be our motivating emotion, we end up doing silly things. We ban children from shopping at the LEGO store. We question why our school would be used as a polling place.

It’s great that our kids are learning about democracy today. I just wish we weren’t so afraid of it.

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