Did you see or hear the news last tonight? It seems a lot of us are on edge. Even for those of us who are doing our best to make sure this is a “regular Tuesday” and a “regular week,” neither are regular. This is a week that will make history. Today is a day that (hopefully) will bring some closure to weeks of name calling, poor behavior, degrading others, and generally showing the worst of humanity. A high schooler told me yesterday she worries “tomorrow will be the worst,” as in the worst day for our country and “the worst election ever.” She’s not even voting. But she’s watching others.
It’s time to move on to civility, decency, empathy, and proactive behavior on social, political, economic and world issues. Let’s not let what may or may not be the “worst” campaign season and election become the “worst” time in our history.
It’s time to move ahead for ourselves, and so our spectators to see us be and do better. Cooperatively. Peacefully.
No matter what your political beliefs are, people are watching and judging each other. It’s the kind of judging that doesn’t engender itself to kindness and compassion, let alone productivity, cooperation, and efficiency. I can’t think of one adult that has not been distracted or disgusted by politics. Even friends living abroad and those of us in-country have lost time from our work, family and priorities to take part in this divisive campaign. Admittedly, many are working proactively to get folks out to vote (BE. SURE. YOU. VOTE.) or lobbying for their cause. But there have been distractions and diversions and – my issue d’jour – what we model for our children. They are watching. And wondering. And learning. And puzzling why some adults are doing precisely what the tell children NOT to do.
Yes, they are all watching us and taking this all in. By “all,” I mean:
- Call each other names
- Misrepresent facts
- Go on defense
- Deflect the issue
The list of undesirable behaviors could go on…
They are watching acquaintances and family members and people they know only in images behave like this. They are seeing people they look up to behave like this and often, disagree with others they love, behaving in unsavory, undesirable ways. Often this adult behavior is precisely the same ways we tell our children they are not to behave. “Don’t lie to me! ” “Stop yelling and use your words!”
In a world where many of us are dedicating our life’s work to teaching kids prosocial skills – like cooperation, assertiveness, respect, empathy and self-control – there are so many adults who are not demonstrating these basic human skills. While they are “basic,” they are also in high demand but often not taught nor utilized.
It’s fine – and necessary in a democracy – to have different opinions. Sharing these diverse views requires one to listen to the other side and to make an argument respectfully with facts, with a sense of cooperation to solve a greater issue, and often with empathy so that the problem can be resolved. The interwebs are fantastic. However, just because it is on-line, that doesn’t make it true, necessary, or desirable. Our kids are hearing and seeing images of poor behavior and ideas that morph from beliefs to thoughts to words and action. As Gandhi said:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
These aggressive, antisocial words, actions, and habits cannot become the values and destiny of a generation. It’s no way for any of us to live.
We need to take a huge, collective breath as the numbers come in. We need to recommit ourselves to treating each other with care and respect, to discussing issues from a place of cooperation and integrity, and to developing solutions with civility, empathy and advocacy. It’s time to get on with the work and joy in our life, rather than being distracted by an election squabbles. This election is immensely important, but it seems to be keeping us, individually and collectively, from being our best. We need to up the game, if nothing else, because our kids are watching and learning from us.
Go vote. Go be kind. Go do good. Show those who are watching you how you want the world to be.