One of the best and worst parts of being a parent is that you know everything, or at least you're suppose to act like you do. With the news littered with information regarding the NATO summit, it has caused a flurry of questions in my house. Now normally when a homework question comes up that is incredibly easy and I'm embarrassed because I have no idea what the answer is, I usually say something like, "Oh come on, you don't know who the President of France is? Really? Oh, that's something you should really know. You need to go research that on the internet. Come on...."
But with the NATO summit, I know enough to get me by, and have found some very simple answers to the never ending questions in my house. My Minor in History is finally coming in handy. These are the most popular questions in my house, and how I'm sure they interpret what I've told them:
WHAT IS NATO? How I say it: It's the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. There's a lot involved in the organization, but it started as a military alliance of the US, Western Europe and Turkey to work against the Soviet Union's Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. Since the Soviet Union is no longer a threat, it's purpose has morphed into being a sign of continued security and stability for it's members.
How they see it: Bobby has been bullying you all year. He brought his neighbors in and they've been taking your lunch money. You decided to get all the kids in your class together and present a united front. Bobby and his buddies decide not to shake you down for your money, but the threat is always there, so you're afraid to disband.
WHY DO THEY HAVE A SUMMIT? How I say it: Since My definition couldn't go beyond 'to make sure they're all on the same page', I consulted with Wikipedia, "(Summits) are important junctures in the alliance's decision-making process on the highest level...used to introduce new policy, invite new members..., launch major new initiatives, and build partnerships."
How they see it: We meet with everyone in the class to see if we want to invite Joe into our class since he takes boxing and could be valuable. We also want to see if Fred is a bully and decide if we should stand up to him too.
WHY ARE PEOPLE PROTESTING? How I say it: There are many reasons groups are choosing to protest the Summit. A big reason is that the summit contains the most powerful and influential people in the world. John Beachan from the Chicago anti-war group put it well, "People are coming out to protest Nato because they want wars to end and they want the money spent on public services, not on bailing out the banks and not on more wars."
How they see it: Our classroom group is getting money from the PTO and we're using the money to build our strength and weapons in case Bobby or some other bully comes after our lunch money again. The other kids and parents want more of that PTO money to be spent on education instead of protection against bullies.
IS NATO GOOD OR BAD? How I say it: This is a very polarizing topic. Many people strongly believe NATO is helping to protect our country as well as our allies. However an equal number of groups believe all this money is being wasted in the wrong places and instead of preventing wars, we are causing more conflicts.
How they see it: You have no idea, but at this point nothing is going to change anytime soon.