By Ernie McCray
I’m thinking that our present times are not serving our children well. I mean, as I look at what’s going on in our society it seems as though we are all caught up in an atmosphere of lunacy wherein we have pretty much thrown our hands in the air like we just don’t care and kissed our way of life goodbye.
The saddest part of all this to me is our children are watching our madness, as only they know how: closely.
And they’ve got be as confused as they can be as they observe so many “grownups” going along with the program of a real live frightening bogeyman-like human being who crash landed in our midst and evolved, like a curse in an episode of the Twilight Zone, into a candidate for the highest office in our land.
And, instead of turning that into something that could help us build a better country, he has, instead, opted to make a mockery of our democracy: sniffing and talking “Yo mama” kind of trash in a voice that is tinny and whiny, throwing wild below-the-belt punches at everything and everyone who doesn’t share his pathetic views or gets in his way, like a junior high bully closing in on his school yard prey…
They just have to be wondering why we’ve given so much credence to this man who does just about everything we’ve taught them not to do, a man who makes their parents mute or turn off the television, in their presence, because his message often is too crude. R rated.
The hypocrisy must be overwhelming to them as they try various social and political philosophies on for size and find that the paths they have to travel over time in their journey to adulthood are already littered with troubling stumbling blocks from this presidential campaign, considering that there’s an uprise in bullying and other hateful acts in our children’s schools. Anti-Muslim sentiments are worse now than right after 9-11.
And my goodness, the anger in our nation. We were already angry, on so many levels, before the race began but as it has proceeded it has breathed more anger into the midst of it all, and has aroused a particular kind of anger we will need to keep an eye on.
This anger has been kept in check, in recent times, by “political correctness.” It’s an anger people allow to boil in themselves when they can’t, like back in the “Good Old Days,” when America was great, in their way of thinking, call a spade a spade, a cripple a cripple, a Chicano a wetback, a Muslim a threat, a refugee a terrorist…
It matters not to them that the carrier of their hopes and dreams sees women as prey, people to be kissed and grabbed inappropriately…
And lately these folks have bought into their wild-haired leader’s potentially dangerous tall tale that if he loses the election “It’s because the voting system is rigged.”
A feeling that one more thing has been stolen from them when they’ve been emboldened beyond their wildest wishes, at a time when their country, with all the negativity and strife going on within its borders, was starting to look appealing is not going to sit well with them at all.
They’re part of a movement now and movements don’t die easy, meaning that we and our children are going to be dealing with them for a while.
So the question for us is how can we help our children navigate this disorder in our nation? How do we get them to do something we haven’t been able to do: sincerely engage and break bread together, face to face, human to human, nothing more, nothing less, and just find it in their hearts to love each other, or at the least listen to each other and sympathize and empathize with each other and make their lives as beautiful as can be?
Mulling these questions over, I found myself thinking of leaders of the past, wondering what they’d do to help the children today, in hopes of finding some ideas we could use right away. I thought of Martin, who could teach them how to love. I thought of Rosa who could teach them how to take a righteous stand. And then I thought of Cesar who could teach them, according to values he left the world, how to:
- serve others (sure beats putting them down);
- sacrifice for others (giving of one’s self is a glorious gesture of love);
- help the needy (every religion asks this of their flock);
- be determined to overcome one’s obstacles in life (no whining allowed);
- be non-violent (there’s no peace where there are bombs);
- be accepting of all people (as their hopes and dreams are like other people’s);
- be respectful of others and of life (the regard will be returned);
- celebrate one’s community and be proud (and see the source of pride in others);
- be knowledgeable (a mind truly is a terrible thing to waste);
- be creative (“If You Can Dream It You Can Do It”).
We can help our children learn such values from wherever we sit in society, be it at home or at a service club or at the “Y,” the JCC, a place of worship, a corporate board room, a community center, school… Wherever there’s room.
Through these values our children can, perhaps, rise above this world that right now isn’t serving them well and learn to see and embrace the good things in life and align themselves with others who dare to approach life as loving and caring human beings.
Because we cared.