My son asked if I could take he and a friend snowboarding for a Sunday adventure. It was short notice and a very long day (4 hours drive each way) but I agreed, looking forward to some quality time with my son and in nature after some big storms.
My son was snowboarding with his friend and I decided to ski. I started my life as a skier and evolved to snowboarding over time. Lately though, between skiing with my youngest who was learning to ski, and because my body doesn’t handle snowboarding falls as well as it used to, I have been skiing more.
Many of the lifts were double chairs so I often went alone, enjoying the beautiful scenery and people watching. After several chair lifts and several runs I became aware of something. People of all ages were snowboarding. People of all ages were skiing. Families had some snow boarders and some skiers. Everyone on the slopes was getting along and respecting each other’s space and recreational sport orientation. As I looked around and pondered, I realized that my son probably didn’t know if was ever any different.
Remember when skiers were the dominant culture and snow boarders were new and looked down upon? Remember when many ski resorts did not allow snowboarders. Remember when skiers were thought of as elite and entitled and snow boarders were thought of as less than and second class?
The good news is most of our kids don’t.
The bad news is that our kids are watching groups of people being profiled and discriminated against. The bad news is that rules are being made quickly about how people should be treated based on where they live and how they look. The bad news is that people are being judged and profiled. The bad news is that lots of people are scared.
There was a time when skiers and snowboarders didn’t like each other and felt threatened by each other. I am not sure exactly what happened, but I know it evolved over time. They needed to get used to each other and realize that both groups loved the snow, loved the sport, and loved nature. They needed to realize that while some members of each group fit the stereotype, most did not. They were all the same people who lived in their communities, and all human.
We need to teach our children about humanity and human nature. Humans are filled with love and compassion, and humans get scared and intimidated. Humans can work together to accomplish amazing things, and humans can blame others for their misfortune. Sure, one can argue we have much larger issues facing us than what type of equipment to use in the snow, but the human issues are not different. We must learn to accept differences. We must learn the difference between something being different and a threat. We must ultimately realize that we will last longer as a civilization if we choose love over hate and fear. We must teach our kids the difference. We can all get along – just like the snowboarders and skiers.
This piece first appeared in the Diablo Gazette.