Tuesday, October 11, 2016

stop this mudslide before we are buried

I just read a very disturbing article (see link below). It caused me to think back to my own childhood, and remember some things that happened. I also began to look at my own values, beliefs, and behavior. Then I decided to put them down in writing. These are just my thoughts...

The article in question came from the Washington Post:

I compared what I read in the article to my own childhood. I grew up in the 60's mostly. It was a time of unrest. The struggle for civil rights was in full swing. Viet Nam was raging, as were the protests against the war here in the US. The Cuban missile crisis made me feel like we weren't as safe as I always thought we were. It was a time of great turmoil. Here are a few of my memories from about the 5th-8th grade (age 10-13):

I remember taking canned food to school, where we stockpiled food and water in case of a nuclear holocaust. We practiced getting under our desks if a bomb dropped. We talked about it like it could happen any time. This was the reality of the Cuban missile crisis for me. I lost a lot of sleep and worried a lot.

I was 11 years old when we found out in class that President Kennedy had been assassinated. I remember thinking that our country was going to be lost without him. He was the President after all, and nothing like that was supposed to happen, right? I had learned about the Lincoln assassination in school, and being an avid reader, knew about the Garfield and McKinley assassinations too. But that was history, remote and unreal to me. When Kennedy was murdered, I remember feeling like the ground had dropped out from under me.

The main thing I remember feeling was that even though there was so much turmoil in America, we were still strong, and would figure it out. I knew there was a lot of disagreement. Even my classmates and I would disagree sometimes about current events. But underneath it all was a feeling (for me) that the disagreements were healthy overall. I don't remember kids fighting or mistreating each other because they didn't agree about the news or politics. We fought about more personal things. We weren't perfect. But we got along. Mostly.

I don't see that now. I see articles like the one above with kids mimicking what they see on TV, and parents trying to shield their kids from what they see going on with this election. I know one thing. It is our responsibility to shield kids from things that are unsavory, until we can explain to them that what they see is not something that should be mirrored by them. The level of anger I see on both sides of this campaign is unnerving, and disappointing. The candidates should stick to the facts, and stop slinging mud. Just because one person slings mud doesn't mean you have to sling back. It brings to mind one other incident in my life when I was about 10 or 11.

I was being bullied by a girl at school. She was just mean. I would be taunted every day at recess, and one day as she circled me, saying the same nasty things to me I had been hearing for days (maybe weeks), something inside me snapped. I was sitting on the grassy area of the playground with some friends, and I reached up and yanked her skirt and told her to stop. Yelled at her actually. There was a small tear in her skirt, because I had yanked so hard. She told me she was going to whip my ass after school because I had torn her new skirt. Her exact words. I was terrified. She was taller than me and I was not a fighter by nature. (That was probably why she had picked on me in the first place.) After school, I raced home (I walked to school every day, about a two block distance). I remember seeing groups of kids here and there on the way, from school to halfway home, waiting to see "the fight". I think it was the longest distance I had ever run. I burst into my house screaming that this girl was going to beat me up. Mom grilled me, found out the girl had been tormenting me for a while and what I had done that day. She marched to my class the next day, and indignantly told my teacher what her thoughts were about bullying, and the bully who had been picking on me. When she finished, my teacher calmly pulled out a note I had passed to a friend at some point that year, and showed it to mom. It had an ugly word in it (hell, I think) and Mom read it and after not much else being said, she left. That afternoon, when I got home, Mom's wrath fell on my head. She had been humiliated defending me, and told me that because of being blindsided by that note, she would never defend me again if I got into a fight. My teacher had muddied the issue with a fact unrelated to what had happened. And it caused my mom to stop believing me. 

I see so many things that should have gone differently, but I was not in control. Mom should not have lost trust in me. My teacher should not have slung my past behavior into the discussion and muddied the issue with it. The teacher should have sat both of us down and explained to her that bullying was not ok, and told me that reacting in anger wasn't the best way to resolve the issue. She should have made us talk it out.

That incident is similar to what I see happening in this election campaign. Get hit by mud, get angry and sling it back. Then sling more mud, faster. Social media enables this, and that is sad. It is time to see what we are doing to ourselves, taking part in this. Where is the sense in all this anger? What does it resolve? It isn't ok to say whatever you wish when you are running for the highest office in the land. Both candidates have plenty of mistakes in their backgrounds. But at some point (and that point is now for me) we become saturated with all this and just stop listening. I am to that point. Overloaded. I think it is time to stick to facts, promote the positive and stop the mudslide. If one candidate takes down their own campaign with a mountain of mud, the other should not follow suit. We should all take that high road. We are better than what is happening, and should demonstrate this for our children. Because they are the ones who will ultimately lose in this. I remember when I lost, and what I lost, as though it was yesterday. So will the children watching this now.

So will the children. Let's show them the high road.

...life is good...
i am @jonesbabie on twitter