Saturday, March 17, 2018

What Does "Better" Look Like?

This started out as a comment on a friend's Facebook post.  The original post shared the above essay.  My friend's lead-in comment basically dissed the practice of "walk-up" described by the writer---which is good.  But then she went on to say she believed we could combat school shootings by teaching our kids to be "better" to each other--which just...makes me crazy.  

I have to shake my head and sigh when the topic of school bullying comes up.  People seem to want to wring their hands and wonder, what is wrong with our kids today?  Really?  Kids are not raised in a vacuum.  Where do we think they learn that behavior?

All this "encouraging kids to be better"  and "walk up and include others," etc.  What are we thinking?  I read an article the other day that called this "victim blaming," and I can't say I disagree.  As if it's the kids' fault that angry white males are storming into schools with weapons of war and shooting kids to bits.

First of all...tell me: how does this theory apply to Sandy Hook?  The victims were six and seven years old.  I'm sure they were not yet bullying each other enough to make one of them grab a gun and shoot up the place.

Second of all, this line of thinking puts all the responsibility on the students, and none on their parents or our society in general.  One only needs to go on Facebook and read comments on a controversial article to see what has become "normal" behavior as far as interactions between adults in this country.  We bully, we call names, we threaten, we throw sarcastic and disrespectful comments at each other with impunity.

Originally, that behavior took place on the internet because it was a place of anonymity--you could put your demons on full display, because nobody knew they were yours.  Over time, people stopped caring whether their comments were anonymous or not.  

And now, we have taken it to the next level--we act this way to each other in public, and on live visual media, not caring who sees us or who knows.  Up to and including our President--the person who theoretically personifies our national character--and his itchy Twitter finger.   

American society has completely normalized rude, confrontational, hateful, tribal behavior: aka  "bullying." are we to teach kids to be better when WE are not "better"?

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