The girl said “Mommy, what does this have to do with me? The politicians have been coming by the school frequently recently but I don’t usually see them. Why?”

Her mother contemplated how to answer the question. She didn’t want to turn her child off from the political process. She replied “love, these individuals are running for public service positions. They know that you and your classmates can influence your parent’s vote so they come to the schools to talk about their platform. Some are sincere and others are not.”

The girl looked confused. She shook her head then said “why do they come around only at election time? The last time they did this I was too young to notice. I over heard the teacher talking/fussing about budget and youth programs. I don’t think the teacher was too happy with the folks that came to speak. I wonder why?”

Her mom smiled “Baby listen, these individuals are campaigning. They want to earn the trust of the community so they will receive the votes. Some are sincere but others are running a popularity contest where the facts are buried in pageantry. Do you understand? Since you seem interested, a good project for you is to research those who are running for re-election. Check out what they did for the VI youth during their last term in office. For those who are new to office, check out what they have done for the community. The reality is that those who are most affected by political decisions are left out of the conversation.”

The girl smiled “Mommy, why are you trying to give me work to do? I know some of them are crooks. I get a vibe that they are about nothing. The same roads are being worked on or being reworked. Crime rates are rising. It seems tons of money is coming in but hardly any of it is being spent on the community. Some of my friends said their parents told them that crooks keep getting re-elected. If that is true, why?”

Her mother laughed. She lost control for a moment and just laughed releasing the tensions from within. Tears rolled down her face as her daughter, not fully understanding the punchline, began laughing too. The mother thought to herself that the children can see. She gained some control over self. “Honey in the world we live in some folks practice the art of deception. The trick is to be able to see beyond the haze of corruption and make an educated decision. In November many people will have to make educated decisions based on truth and not pomp and circumstance. Do you know what you and your friends can do?”

The daughter shrugged her shoulders with a perplexed look on her face. Her mother continued “Many people like to look at elected officials for solutions. We can’t put all the work on them. At your age, you have responsibilities. Though these individuals took an oath of service, the power of change lies in the community. You and your friends can make a difference.”

The girl asked “How? What can we do? We can’t vote!” “No you can’t vote but you can assist in changing your environment. You and your friends can start doing things to uplift your peers who are struggling. You and your friends can become aware of the status quo and alert others of the ones who are for the people and the ones who are for self. You and your friends have much more power than you think. When I was your age, I joined a youth activist group. We did many things to help our neighborhood and school. Would you like to do something like that?”

The girl smiled “Mommy, I asked you a simple question and you went off on a tantrum.” Her mother gave her the eye. The girl continued, “Just kidding. Actually, there are some youth groups at my school that I’m considering joining. Many of us are tired of seeing our friends die or know someone who lost a friend or family member.” The girl paused then said, “Mommy, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Can I go do my homework before you talk my head off?” The mother’s eyes opened wide and they both burst out laughing.