Adults have reservations about everything. You’re either a democrat or a republican, pro gun or anti-gun, pro-life or pro-choice, Fox News or CNN. The status quo dictates we have a strong dislike for the people who oppose our opinion. You literally CANNOT BE a democratic presidential candidate in 2019 who happens to be pro-life and pro-second amendment. Why is that? Why can’t two grown adults with opposing opinions sit down and have an educated, yet respectful, conversation regarding their differences? Why are these questions we still have to ask ourselves in 2019? Better yet, what do we tell our kids?
“Do as I say, not as I do.” Isn’t that how the saying goes? This is pretty much what we’re telling our children they need to do. It’s no wonder they’re confused and frustrated. We walk around resenting each other, exemplifying disrespect, and spreading hateful narcissism. We ask our kids to do the opposite. As their parents, we’re creating an environment of depression, anxiety, conflicted beliefs, self-resentment, and resentment toward other people. And for what?
We have created extremists. The reason we have bipartisan politics is because two grown adults can’t sit down and have a conversation with opposing opinions and come to a compromise. And because of this, we’ve found ourselves in a situation where no progress can be made on anything. Forget Washington. This transcends the political spectrum all the way down to the way we treat each other. And it’s rubbing off on our children. It’s not good, folks. It needs to change.
Thankfully, my son is young enough that I don’t have to have this conversation YET. But he will reach the point one day where he asks me some difficult questions that I don’t know I’m equipped to answer. It’s okay to be frustrated, pissed off, and shaking your fists. Many people died at the hands of two domestic terrorists. But after your tantrum, you stand up, dust yourself off, and lace up your boots. It’s time to embrace and enforce change. We need to pick up the pieces of a broken generation. We can’t expect to keep creating messes that our children are forced to fix for us.
So, how do we do all of that? As trivial as it sounds, it starts at the bottom. How can we expect our elected officials to compromise with each other when republican Ralph can’t have a respectful conversation with democratic Dave at the local Walmart? We have to start treating each other with respect and listen to what others are trying to say.
We can’t keep pretending that we know everything about what each other is going through. If you’re black, I want to hear what you have to say about racism, police brutality, and discrimination. I want to know what actions I can take to do better. Nevermind whose fault it is. I want things to change. If you’re a woman, I want to know about sexism in the workplace. Tell me how you think we can fix a broken system that’s more likely to favor a man in power simply because he’s a man. No change was ever made without action. And, frankly, I’m tired of the same disrespectful rhetoric that always supersedes tragedy.
What do we tell our kids? The world really doesn’t suck. It’s not full of hate. It’s simply that shaking someone’s hand, looking them in the eye, and telling them you love them isn’t newsworthy. Frankly, we need to be able to look our kids in the eye and tell them we did everything we could do to be a catalyst for change. It starts with communication. Talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Listen to their experience. Hear what they are trying to tell you. There’s no reason, in a world that can connect two people with smartphones together from across the planet, that we should be yelling at each other on the street with megaphones and riot shields between us.
It’s really not as difficult as we’re making it be. It’s not impossible. Be the people you want your kids to be. The truth is, children try to listen to what we tell them but listening can only go so far. Being told to do one thing and seeing the opposite action take place speaks louder than any lesson that could be taught. So, stop talking. BE the example. BE the change you want to see.