Consent

Mommy, will you come talk to me?

What do you want to talk about?

I was hoping you would choose a subject.

This is how every day ends. She wants me to entertain her. And while I might very much like to escape into TV or a book, she is asking very sweetly.

So I have to come up with a topic that my 8 year old will care about. And that I care about.

I’ve told her about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, comparing different empires through time. That led nicely to talk about the relationship between Britain and Rome, and the British Empire.

We talked about the Norman Conquest, and how our language changed after that. When she was learning about the constitution at school, we talked about the Magna Carta.

I’m winging it, with a little help from Wikipedia to remember the dates and facts.

I decided I wanted to give her a little theory. It was time to talk about how government only rules by the consent of the governed.

What if your teacher were really mean? What if she picked on you? Or WHAT IF she picked on your friend? What if she marked your homework wrong when it was really wrong?

What could you do?

Her jaw is dropped. It’s almost beyond her conception!

Perfect.

Veronica, you don’t have to consent to this. You can fight back! What if you talked to the other students in class, and you all agreed that none of you would turn in your homework. Because she wasn’t being fair to one person. You could make a stand and not consent to her if she was being unfair.

Mrs. Andrade would never do that. I know. But I want you to know that you have a choice. You don’t have to give consent.

But also, you may not realize it’s hard for the authority too. There are lots of ways that authorities have to adjust because they don’t get consent.

You know how Lucy Dog is? She listens to us, she consents to our rules. She is very happy.

And Simon Cat? He does not consent very well. How many times does he jump on the table? And every time we tell him no and throw him off.

He doesn’t consent to be governed by our rules.

So what do we do? If it got too bad, we would have to kick him out of our family.

But for now, we just keep kicking him off the table.

That’s what it’s like. That’s how it works inside authority. There is compromise, and no one is completely without power. And it’s important to use our power for good, and not be complacent.