“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is not a political post per se, but rather it is a post about the environment that this year’s political fallout has created. It is a post about the future costs of the fiasco that is Trump-mania.
I have raised my children and co-raised one grandchild. They have turned out to be good, responsible adults with a solid set of values, and I am proud of them. But this evening I was thinking … what if I had to start over again, in today’s environment that is so dominated by phobias and ‘-isms’, by hatred and intolerance? Decades ago, I told my children to simply treat everybody alike, be kind to everybody … to every living creature, that nobody, including them, was any better or worse than anybody else, except as defined by their actions. In today’s environment, though, is that enough?
Perhaps ten years from now we will come to understand that the real price of the 2016 presidential election is in the next generation, our children. Think about this … our children hear and see candidates and pundits alike yelling, exhibiting terrible manners, terrible behaviour, and saying words that children should not even hear. They see a man ordering a crowd to beat an innocent man, screaming that everybody is a liar. Our next generation sees and hears everything we do, and while they may not understand right now, you can bet they are filing these things away for future reference.
How does a mother explain to her teenage daughter that she should never, ever let any man touch her in certain places without her consent, when she sees a man who is running for the highest office in the land bragging about doing just that? How does this mother explain to her daughter that her friends and family still support this man, but that what he says is wrong and what he does is even more wrong? How can that mother explain to her daughter why this is happening and … more to the point … why she is not speaking out against it?
How does a father tell his teenage son to respect women, that women are the equals of men in every way, and that he should never put them down, when in politics and pop culture, that is what men are doing? He sees it every day, but yet the father is trying to tell him not to do it.
How does any parent say to their child, “Trust the police, they are your friends? If you are ever in trouble or feel unsafe, go find a policeman and he will help you”? How can we tell our children that the policeman on the corner may be our friend, or he may be as big of a danger to us as is the drug dealer on the next corner?
How do any of us explain to our children that there is no difference between them and the Hispanic kids down the street, when on television they hear that Hispanics are ‘murderers and rapists’? How do parents tell their children that we can only judge people based on their behaviour, their actions, when they keep hearing that Muslims are bad, Jews are thieves, and African-Americans are lazy and criminals?
How does a parent explain to a child that the man with no legs is not different, not an object of ridicule, but a human being who just happens to have no legs?
How do we tell our children that violence is never the answer, that it is not okay to use fists, knives, or guns, when we support politicians that call for violence at every turn, when we fight for the right to have tools in our homes that serve only one purpose – to take the lives of others?
How do we teach our children, in these their formative years, not to be intolerant, to care about other people, not to judge based on religion, skin colour, sexual orientation, when that is what they are hearing and seeing every single day? We can say the words, but it is our actions that tell the truth. If we tell them that all races are equal, then they hear us laugh at a racist joke, what message did they hear? We cannot say “do as I say, not as I do”, for they are smart enough to see the lie.
The real cost of the environment we have allowed ourselves to create will come in 10-15 years, when our children grow up with even more prejudices, even more hatred for those who are different than we have today. Then we will have lost our humanity, we will have lost the right to consider ourselves a free and welcoming society. And we will have only ourselves to blame. Our greed, our selfishness, will give rise to a society filled with people who care only about themselves, who live only for their own perverse pleasure with no regard for others. And we will have only ourselves to blame.
There are three types of people in this country today: those who are okay with the toxic environment, those who do not like it but suffer it in silence, and those who speak out against it. To all those who support the hate and vitriol that is rapidly becoming today’s societal ‘norm’, shame on you! To those of you who do not condone it but yet are content to sit back and shake your heads, wondering where it all ends, shame on you also! To all those who are speaking up, who are saying, “NO, this is not right”, KUDOS!