“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.”–Nelson Mandela
I have always played my political cards close to my vest. I don’t advertise my party affiliations not because I am embarrassed of the person I voted for in our last Presidential election but because I have learned that doing so brews hatred. For similar reasons, I avoid watching the news. Nevertheless, I don’t have to monitor my Twitter feed to catch the pulse of our nation; I read it every time I enter my classroom.
My students are over saturated in news media. They are constantly watching and reading about people on social media and streaming channels. This does not mean, however, that their education is a quality one. They know more about George Michaels than they do about George Washington.
What are they really learning?
What are they really watching?
My nieces–who are still between the ages of 7 and 13–recently showed me some shows they were watching on YouTube. In the show, blocky Minecraft-like characters wobble around hitting each other while screaming and laughing and singing silly songs. The show is supposedly made by video gamers sharing their “craft”, but it has no substantial value. It does not encourage craft in gaming. It does not encourage healthy social behavior. It does not help my nieces become better human beings. I have seen some adults watch the same types of shows and games and call it “informative”. At the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned, out-of-touch person on a rant, let me just tell you that it is mind-numbing crap.
There are voices out there on the internet to fit any slant you want to hook into and believe–in any language you want to hear it in. If you think the government is corrupt and out to hurt you, there are websites and shows you can watch to support that point of view. If you think one racial group is always the enemy of another group, there are plenty of channels to support your view. Several guest speakers are lining up to help you rally a protest on that idea too. If you think the media is biased and corrupt, go underground and find an unfiltered channel sneaking out the “real truth” to you. If you care little about the rest of the world, that’s okay too; Hallmark has some nice, happy endings for you.
No matter where you sit in the spectrum of perspectives I just mentioned, you have a place in the United States of America, and that place is protected by the first amendment of the Constitution. If you have never heard about the Constitution of the United States, if you have never read it, Google it; it’s online too. Before you burn that flag or bend a knee during the National Anthem or spit on all things American again, realize men and women have a long history of fighting and dying for your freedom to do just that in this country. If you protest a country that gives you the freedom to protest, what exactly is your point? And if you hate this country so much, why are you in it?
So much of what I see today is angry people with no sense of their human history. History should be our friend and allie, not the thing we avoid like the Black Plague. Instead of blindly believing the many filtered voices offering “truth”, we should all pursue truth from the source. Watch the speech and read the document; don’t just accept what others tell you about it. Don’t just spout racist ideals like bullies in a school yard when you don’t even understand half the words you are using.
What started all this anger, and what fed it into a raging wildfire? I believe it started in childhood with the way we chose to raise our children.
Right now, generations are closer in age then they have ever been before. Children are raising children who are raising children. Clueless, overwhelmed adolescents leave babies to parent themselves through devices and social media. Those babies grow up without social skills or the confidence that the world is their oyster. For them, the world is against them and every person in it is set out to hurt them. They stumble into adolescence and adulthood, get pregnant, and repeat the cycle of what happened to them. They seek to redeem their world through the spoilage of their child and end up acting more like a friend to them then a parent. If I were raised like this, I’d be angry too.
How can we stop the cycle?
How can we show each other more love than hate?