The other day I walked down to the school to pick up my kids. Jenna normally does this but occasionally, South Orange County traffic makes it inevitable I will get the privilege to walk my kids home from school from time-to-time. As I was standing at the crosswalk, I was rather entertained as two 8-year-old boys get into a heated argument about their favorite football teams. I couldn’t make out everything they were yelling at each other but I was thoroughly entertained when “Tom Brady is a turd” was screamed out! You may or may not follow the NFL but the one child’s view of the New England Patriots QB was a rather staunch one.
[Side-note: I do not know why I am so entertained when other people’s children act up. I’m pretty sure in some way it’s because I am so glad it’s not MY kids for a change! Does anyone else think like this?]
At the pinnacle of this epic battle, just before argument turned into haymakers and black eyes, my kids showed up and one of the more respectable parents (clearly not me) stepped in and separated the boys. As I walked home with my two youngest children, I talked to my kids about the episode at the crosswalk.
I’m sure what I told my 6 and 9-year-old is what they’ve heard in school many times on resolving conflicts. I want to believe the parent who stepped in between the arguing boys said something along the same lines as well.
I told my children it’s okay to have differences of opinion. What matters though, is how we deal with each other when we don’t agree.
Why does this logic work for our children but goes out the window when adults deal with one another? When did being right become such an obsession in our society? It doesn’t even have to be a political stance anymore that sets off a firestorm. Dare I bring up breastfeeding in public or vaccinating your children to prove my point?
Just look at how natural disasters, silent protests, and mass shootings has unfurled vicious anger and outrage over the last several weeks. There’s outrage that our President tweets about what professional athletes are doing but nothing about people who have suffered through numerous natural disasters. A boycott of the NFL over players taking a knee during the national anthem. Intense anger over the senseless shooting in Las Vegas. No matter where you stand on any of these issues, there seems to be unrelenting anger bubbling just under the surface, ready to erupt. One wrong word to the wrong person and they will start a “shame campaign” to shame you for your views or beliefs if you don’t see things the way they do.
Let’s not lose sight of the facts. I have had numerous conversations with people who feel Irma and Harvey happened because Trump announced the US was pulling out of the Paris Agreement. That the horrific shooting in Las Vegas could have been avoided if the NRA didn’t exist and all guns were outlawed. And clearly, these wildfires in my neck of the woods are because the government didn’t have tighter restrictions on (fill in the blank).
Your view on climate change, gun control, same-sex marriage, Presidents with Twitter access are all part of who you are and it’s ok to believe what you believe. I know you are not reading this to gain my approval on your belief system. But what I want to do is challenge us on how we deal with someone who sees things differently. It’s the age-old adage: Treat others like you want to be treated.
Sometimes it’s hard to find hope in light of the crazy things that are going on around us today. But the one thing we absolutely must not abandon is our respect for our fellow man… no matter what they chose to believe or say. It goes back to what I told my kids this week, what really matters is how we deal with each other when we don’t agree.
Listen, I know I don’t have all of the answers but I believe with my whole heart we will start to see a shift in our society and our world if we could begin to respect each other. To come together as one people. Be willing to agree to disagree while honoring each other’s views. We don’t need a President to make us a great again. We were already great, we’ve just been too busy arguing with each other to realize it. When I walk out my front door and look at the amazing diversity that surrounds me, I am reminded of what a truly great America looks like.