How to use family dinner to teach politics | Hajer Sharief


Twenty years ago, my family introduced a system
called “Friday Democracy Meetings.” Every Friday at 7pm, my family
came together for an official meeting to discuss the current family affairs. These meetings were facilitated
by one of my parents, and we even had a notetaker. These meetings had two rules. First, you are allowed
to speak open and freely. Us kids were allowed
to criticize our parents without that being considered
disrespectful or rude. Second rule was the Chatham House rule, meaning whatever is said in the meeting
stays in the meeting. (Laughter) The topics which were discussed
in these meetings varied from one week to another. One week, we’d talk about
what food we wanted to eat, what time us kids should go to bed and how to improve things as a family, while another meeting discussed
pretty much events that happened at school and how to solve
disputes between siblings, by which I mean real fights. At the end of each meeting,
we’d reach decisions and agreements that would last at least
until the next meeting. So you could say
I was raised as a politician. By the age of six or seven,
I mastered politics. I was negotiating, compromising, building alliances
with other political actors. (Laughter) And I even once tried to jeopardize
the political process. (Laughter) These meetings sound very peaceful,
civil and democratic, right? But that was not always the case. Because of this open, free space
to talk, discuss and criticize, things sometimes got really heated. One meeting went really bad for me. I was about 10 years old at that time, and I’d done something
really horrible at school, which I’m not going to share today — (Laughter) but my brother decided
to bring it up in the meeting. I could not defend myself, so I decided to withdraw from the meeting
and boycott the whole system. I literally wrote an official letter
and handed it to my dad, announcing that I am boycotting. (Laughter) I thought that if I stopped
attending these meetings anymore, the system would collapse, (Laughter) but my family continued with the meetings, and they often
made decisions that I disliked. But I could not challenge these decisions, because I was not attending the meetings, and thus had no right to go against it. Ironically, when I turned
about 13 years old, I ended up attending
one of these meetings again, after I boycotted them for a long time. Because there was an issue
that was affecting me only, and no other family member
was bringing it up. The problem was that after each dinner, I was always the only one
who was asked to wash the dishes, while my brothers didn’t have to do
anything about it. I felt this was unjust,
unfair and discriminatory, so I wanted to discuss it in the meeting. As you know, the idea that it’s a woman
or a girl’s role to do household work is a rule that has been carried out
by many societies for so long, so in order for a 13-year-old me
to challenge it, I needed a platform. In the meeting, my brothers argued that none of the other boys we knew
were washing the dishes, so why should our family be any different? But my parents agreed with me and decided
that my brothers should assist me. However, they could not force them,
so the problem continued. Seeing no solution to my problem,
I decided to attend another meeting and propose a new system
that would be fair to everyone. So I suggested instead of one person washing all the dishes
used by all the family members, each family member
should wash their own dishes. And as a gesture of good faith, I said I’d wash the pots as well. This way, my brothers
could no longer argue that it wasn’t within their responsibility as boys or men to wash the dishes
and clean after the family, because the system I proposed
was about every member of the family cleaning after themselves
and taking care of themselves. Everyone agreed to my proposal, and for years, that was
our washing-the-dishes system. What I just shared with you
is a family story, but it’s pure politics. Every part of politics
includes decision-making, and ideally, the process
of decision-making should include people
from different backgrounds, interests, opinions, gender, beliefs, race, ethnicity, age, and so on. And they should all have
an equal opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process
and influence the decisions that will affect their lives
directly or indirectly. As such, I find it difficult to understand
when I hear young people saying, “I’m too young to engage in politics
or to even hold a political opinion.” Similarly, when I hear some women saying, “Politics is a dirty world
I don’t want to engage with,” I’m worried that the idea of politics
and political engagement has become so polarized
in many parts of the world that ordinary people feel, in order
for them to participate in politics, they need to be outspoken activists, and that is not true. I want to ask these young people,
women and ordinary people in general: Can you really afford not to be interested
or not to participate in politics? Politics is not only activism. It’s awareness, it’s keeping ourselves informed,
it’s caring for the facts. When it’s possible, it’s casting a vote. Politics is the tool
through which we structure ourselves as groups and societies. Politics governs every aspect of life, and by not participating in it, you’re literally allowing other people
to decide on what you can eat, wear, if you can have access to health care, free education, how much tax you pay, when you can retire, what is your pension. Other people are also deciding
on whether your race and ethnicity is enough to consider you a criminal, or if your religion and nationality
is enough to put you on a terrorist list. And if you still think you are a strong,
independent human being unaffected by politics, then think twice. I am speaking to you
as a young woman from Libya, a country that is
in the middle of a civil war. After more than 40 years
of authoritarian rule, it’s not a place
where political engagement by women and young people
is possible, nor encouraged. Almost all political dialogues
that took place in the past few years, even those gathered by foreign powers, has been with only
middle-aged men in the room. But in places with a broken
political system like Libya, or in seemingly functioning places,
including international organizations, the systems we have nowadays
for political decision-making are not from the people for the people, but they have been established
by the few for the few. And these few have been historically
almost exclusively men, and they’ve produced laws, policies, mechanisms for political participation
that are based on the opinions, beliefs, worldviews, dreams, aspirations of this one group of people, while everyone else was kept out. After all, we’ve all heard
some version of this sentence: “What does a woman,
let alone a young person, who is brown, understand about politics?” When you’re young — and in many parts of the world, a woman — you often hear experienced politicians
say, “But you lack political experience.” And when I hear that, I wonder what sort of experience
are they referring to? The experience of corrupted
political systems? Or of waging wars? Or are they referring to the experience of putting the interests
of economic profits before those of the environment? Because if this is political experience, then yes — (Applause) we, as women and young people,
have no political experience at all. Now, politicians might not be
the only ones to blame, because ordinary people,
and many young people as well, don’t care about politics. And even those who care
don’t know how to participate. This must change, and here is my proposal. We need to teach people at an early age about decision-making
and how to be part of it. Every family is its own
mini political system that is usually not democratic, because parents make decisions
that affect all members of the family, while the kids have very little to say. Similarly, politicians make decisions
that affect the whole nation, while the people have
very little say in them. We need to change this, and in order to achieve
this change systematically, we need to teach people that political, national
and global affairs are as relevant to them
as personal and family affairs. So if we want to achieve this,
my proposal and advice is, try out the Family Democracy
Meeting system. Because that will enable your kids
to exercise their agency and decision-making from a very early age. Politics is about having conversations, including difficult conversations, that lead to decisions. And in order to have a conversation,
you need to participate, not sign off like I did when I was a kid and then learn the lesson the hard way
and have to go back again. If you include your kids
in family conversations, they will grow up and know how to participate
in political conversations. And most importantly, most importantly, they will help others engage. Thank you. (Applause)

About the author

Comments

  1. Only in a liberals home do you need to have weekly democracy meetings. In a conservative home, parents teach their sons to be good and morally strong men who help with the dishes without being asked. They raise men to treat their sisters as though they are of equal value to the family. To love them, respect them and protect them from those that would harm them.

  2. I hate having my dinner with the family these days because all they talk about is politics and the only bloody thing happening in politics just now is god damn BREXIT.
    It's more a chore these days just trying to get through a meal without slicing myself with my steak knife.

  3. It's sad how many people just read the title and started complaining in the comments.
    She's not talking about discussing ACTUAL politics while having dinner. More so about a family having a conversation that's based on how political debates go, meaning talking about everyday life but in a way that we listen to each other better and don't hold anything against each other, outside of that conversation.
    How about yall listen before taking nonsence?

  4. We have enough hatred and deviciveness in politics already. A family dinner should be a time to focus on FAMILY not whatever your personal politcal agenda is.

  5. Raise the voting age. People are less mature now than ever, with varied life experience coming much later than with our parents and grandparents.

  6. Being informed and aware of happenings around us is the most active way of participating in political activities. Because that leads to better decision making.

  7. Schools are terrible and kids are stupider than ever. Kids shouldn't vote. Raise it to 30 when adults are able to see what's really going on

  8. How to teach family politics?
    Speak truth
    Most of which has been tragically hidden!
    Example: in the USA, we are watching a show
    BO’s parents?
    The truth is coming
    And it’s not about politics
    It’s about the facts

  9. So then save it for your own Friday or a special day but not every day at the dinner table.
    It's artificial to include politics within a family at home every night.
    If you want to do that open a business or an agency for a Cause and make yourself a nine to five 24/7.
    It's a conspiracy to use manipulation in every-day natural courses to program minds.

    ' Politics' is generally a negative term and a negative subject.
    The whole premise of America was that there's a time and place for those things so that they don't destroy life and dreams and spirit.
    Why make that something to eat at dinner?

  10. Nobody could afford not to have an interest for take part in politics or government decisions, but there's a time and place and I will defend that because in today's day and age there's too much politics and government issues and even though we must deal with them, it's in these circumstances where our humanity and civil rights get lost and take a back seat two things that have given us the grief of today.

  11. Trying to get through this … increase speed to 1.5x. She's not talking about politics, she's talking about being competent, in control of your emotions, tactful, diplomatic, informed, and civil. This isn't politics, it's generally being a decent human being.

  12. Dudes. They aren’t talking about discussing actual politics during dinner. This is why we watch the video before commenting, though I get that the people who come just spew hate don’t really care.

  13. I think you could go an extra step and liberate yourself by not wearing the headpiece.
    Only because it applies to many different religions wear subservience by women is beat into them by men.
    It's understandable that the men see how women get out of hand with their vanity and Quest dysfunction in the world and hearts, but that is an icon resembling a worst-case scenario of how to deal with it.
    These things come from a place where a man could beat a woman to death for showing too much skin.
    it's going to take some time but we can get to a good place in this world in our hearts and Minds to function better peacefully and happily.
    🌿

  14. You can't teach politics, it is conceptualized and formed based upon upbringing. There is a book called Moral politics by George Lakoff that explains this process. My explanation probably didn't do his ideas any justice.

  15. if you have headscarf in your house that is already worst kind of politics you are teaching your children, so no thank you.

  16. Really really hard to find a single comment with any decent number of likes that isn't ignorant hate about politics when the video isn't about politics AT ALL.
    Everyone writing idiotic comments about politics, this video is EXACTLY for people like you. I pray you actually watch before you continue writing absolute nonsense.

  17. If you teach your kids common consideration and respect for nature and human life and dreams, you won't have to teach them about politics because the following alignment with goodness.
    Keep trying to counteract the evil by using the same style as manipulation on innocent children and you will only be rewarded with the same.
    The more experiences adults have the smarter kids are because they have and open mind to see through different ages, While most adult Minds close.
    So manipulation is not the answer.

  18. I like the idea of Fridays being a time to discuss family issues and how to resolve them with your children. I really enjoyed this TED talk.

  19. Sure let's indoctrinate our children with liver ideas at the dinner table that's just bring politics into every facet of our life thanks dummies!

  20. Politics is Cancer, last thing I would teach or speak about at the dinner table, at the dinner table I eat and at my bed I sleep. Period.

  21. This analysis is wrong. What you’ve proven is Money has political power, not Men. Men just happened to have the money in some circumstances. But there have been many Queens in the world that have defined policy for many lower-class Men. So it’s not Men that have the power, but sadly it’s Money, an intangible object, that has power over us all.

    Even in your “democratic” society, the powerful (your parents with money) let you have democracy. But they could have taken it away just the same. And to that effect, it is your need for food and housing and money that buys these things that governs the fact that true democracy will never exist in a capitalist society, and “democracy” is only what is allowed to those without by those with the most, Money.

  22. If you start smashing the dishes, nobody is going to trust you with washing them again.
    The only thing I ever wanted to do at dinner time was eat.

  23. I really dont think so , dinner time is family time no ifs or buts , we give most of our day to the government im not giving them dinner time aswell .

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  25. It’s funny cause she lays out perfectly why we need exactly the opposite of what she is proposing.
    Repeal the 19th.

  26. "the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter" – Winston Churchill

    Democracy inside a household wouldn't be bad, because it is easier to educate a few children about what their decisions might cause, but it is impossible to educate millions or billions of people about what their decisions might entice. We elect the politicians that share our views and goals, and if they don't do what is in the best interest of the people then they don't get re-elected. It's an elegant system, really.

  27. You should use it to teach your Famiy Anarchy, not Government. This immigrant was not born here. Dont listen to this air head.

  28. It's a great idea for families to have miniature "political" discussions on the personal level. It can help solve disputes and learn negotiation tactics that can be useful outside the family as well.

  29. Why is she permitted to show hair, forehead and bare wrists? This is unacceptable in Scotland. Someone should inform her imam.

  30. NICE TITLE PED! 👍👍🏿👍🏻 "How to use family dinner to weaken America and strengthen her enemies | ISIS Bride, head of Mujahadeed propaganda"

  31. So PED is doing the work of America's enemies now, do they think Guantanamo Bay is a vacation resort or something? imbecils

  32. So indoctrinate your children into your ideology?

    Or allow someone without a clue on how things are run to have a say?

    lol

  33. I am sorry but the children are children, they do not have knowledge, experience, or maturity to make political decisions. Most people should stay out of politics, politicians prey on the emotional, inexperienced, and stupid. You are basically advocating recruiting children for use politics. Average people are not tools to be manipulated for political gain.

  34. This title is moronic, if she was a native English speaker she should have said 'teach Civics' that is what got people up on their haterade. In the USA people talk politics like Dems vs. Reps or like sports its impossible to 'teach politics'. That is where the confusion is. Thanks for the words.

  35. The assumption that if you don't take part you don't have any say is false and a dangerous lie. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner. Nothing could be more anti-freedom and against human rights. It doesn't matter if the sheep abstains from the corrupt system. If the wolves show up at his house saying they voted and he has to surrender or pay their taxes, the sheep has every right to defend himself against their tyranny.

  36. what do we do about people with very strong political views that are based on false information, and the "activism" that goes along with it?

  37. I feel that many of the points proposed are ridiculous. How can one sincerely say that governments like the American one and its foundation are antidemocratic? Not only that the whole thing about having a "democratic family" is ridiculous, in my opinion children should respect their parents and do as they're told, and if they have an issue they should mention it to them, but this whole dishes thing is preposterous. "My parents agreed but they couldn't force them" why because they are men? I don't get it, these are parents they can most certainly make them do the dishes. In essence, this TED looks nice from the outside but at the 2/3rds mark it goes sharp left turn, and I can't agree with it.

  38. I'm of two minds about this woman. She has a good message for the general public. However she also clearly has a bias towards the old men who created the world she lives in. A world of extreme luxury compared to earlier generations. A world with problems yes, but every generation faces their own crises (thank god we aren't dealing with a world war). It seems to me she wants a leadership role without earning it. The reason we are lead by old men is because when they were young men there were very few women in political positions. These men accumulated experience and responsibility over time and now lead us. It seems incredibly spoiled to demand a leadership position without earning it as earlier generations have.

  39. There are actually some families that shut their children up when they have opinions that don't coincide with theirs by saying : ".. where do you think the food you're eating comes from or the house you're living in or the clothes you're wearing or the education you're getting.."
    …. this is family tyranny and that's another reason why the dinner table is not a good place for political type discussions.
    The older generation has this thing about them when it comes to crap like that. A double standard in many cases like the cliche " do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do"
    Even in America that kind of crap exists still today.

  40. Amazing speech. And great example for many families with small children.
    Thank you.

    P.S: I am sorry for leaving a stupid comment earlier after I only overheard one sentence.

  41. The part about men is bullshit, it's men who have you the right to vote in the US, now if you were talking about Libya, well just thank Muhammad.

  42. Yawn, bringing propaganda to the dinner table? boring, if you ain't talking $$$ change the topic, the important question is, does the h$e guala guala 👩 💼 👉👌? and how much for a guala guala 👉 😲? 😈 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-sS_Ts2Bjc itch cute and she talk a lot, but all I know is she fork a lot aaaaaaahh, AAAAAAAAHHH https://youtu.be/A-sS_Ts2Bjc?t=140 she Cuban? shorty looks Cuban, guala guala, guala guala guala, I'm livin like theres no tomorra, don't loan my style won't let you borra, if thirsty have a glass of soy wata #NotMyLatte 🥛 🤣

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