“It’s not polite to talk about politics, religion, or money”, so the adage goes. However, I can’t miss this opportunity in our anger-ridden political cycle to consider the message being sent to the youth of our country. A few weeks ago, during a press conference, Donald Trump was asked about the example he was setting for children by calling people, among other things, “loser.” His response was “the kids love me.” I have been mulling over this and can sit idly no more. He is repeatedly disrespectful, dare I say hateful, to large swaths of humanity all in an effort to raise the stakes and dumb down the level of discourse in our election cycle. No matter your personal political beliefs, I just can’t abide the example that Mr. Trump is setting for our nation’s youth.
We teach our children from the earliest ages to use their (kind) words, to talk through their problems, to think before they speak….these tenets have seemingly lost their place for one (or more) of our loudest voices. It doesn’t help that the 24 news cycle ramps it up and provides a microphone for such things but that shouldn’t make a difference. Name calling-even in the interest of plain speech-is not ok. Discrimination has no place in our political process.
We face an uphill battle every day in teaching our children, both at home and school, to be kind. We place quotes on the wall, use teachable moments, and read books like Wonder, all in efforts to build a society of thoughtful, intelligent, dare I say, peacemaking, citizens of the world. This battle has become more difficult and we must fight against it.
In his op-ed in the NY Times this weekend, Frank Bruni, writes “Obnoxious Is The New Charisma.”
“IN a typical presidential campaign, the most successful candidates lay claim to leadership with their high-mindedness. They reach for poetry. They focus on lifting people up, not tearing them down. They beseech voters to be their biggest, best selves.”
(Frank Bruni, New York Times, January 10, 2016)
Oh, to go back to this place. Where our (potential) world leaders use intellect, thoughtfulness, and challenging discourse to move our country forward. Rather than sinking to immature name-calling and unrealistic promises that not only model inappropriate behavior for children but belittle our position in the world as a leading nation.
So take heart, dear teachers and parents, press on towards kindness and continue to model what we know is right. Hopefully, the mic will turn off soon.