What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, And Understanding

The current political climate in this country is making me nauseous. The amount of venom flowing from both sides of the political spectrum is unnerving at best and unpatriotic at worst. I believe in the two party system. I like the way the differences balance each other out. I think our forefathers created something great here. But, somewhere in the recent past, we came to a point where there is no longer a capacity to agree to disagree and to find common ground despite our disputes. Somewhere along the line, we became unable to view compromise as a viable option. Truth is, though, that is how our government was designed to work. If we can’t reach across party lines, then the balance our forefathers sought is impossible and everything is out of whack.

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately as the presidential election nears because of things I’m hearing my children say. Our boys attend a fairly homogenous school where they are at a distinct disadvantage. It would be a safe assessment to admit that roughly 98% of the parents at my boys’ school will be voting the same way during this next election. And, yes, our household is in the 2% who will likely vote the other way. Our boys, smart kids that they are, realize that they are in the minority. They hear what their classmates are saying about the election and they are honestly afraid to join the conversation because they don’t want to admit that our household is different. They are afraid to be ostracized. Joe, specifically, has mentioned hateful things his classmates have said regarding political candidates. I know they’re just kids repeating their parents’ views, but that is what frightens me. We’re passing on this culture of narrow-mindedness to the next generation. I’m afraid it will never end.

Growing up, I knew what my parents political beliefs were. I knew that Ronald Reagan made my mom nervous and that my dad was not too impressed with Jimmy Carter. Through my parents’ political differences, I came to accept the discourse between the two parties as part and parcel of a democratic society. I was never afraid to express my views. I grew up willing to stand up for what I believed or at least being willing to talk about it. My boys are too fearful to do the same. I wish they felt it was worth it to state their opinions, but it’s not. They’re growing up in a country where differences are problematic and where compromise is considered weakness.

If I had one great Miss America wish for this country, it’s that I wish we could throw off intolerance and hatred. Someone who disagrees with us is not an enemy. At the end of the day, we all want the same things. We want a better life for our children, a stable and safe country to live in, the right to live within our own belief system, all wrapped up in peace and prosperity. Just because we don’t see eye to eye doesn’t mean we should perpetuate an environment of hatred. I’m trying to teach my children that tolerance is important, and you can’t do that with words alone. You have to live it. When Christ said, “love thy neighbor,” He meant it…and not simply when it’s convenient or when they share your world view. How do we teach our children to play nicely if we can’t?

7 comments

  1. Justine,
    It grieves me that it has come to the point where young school children have any thing at all to do with political discussions. This is a time to be carefree and play. It is horrible your sons should be in such a situation when, in fact, politics should be the farthest thing from these children at their ages. Yes, in high school when thought processes are maturing it is quite reasonable to join debate teams and, in history classes, to discuss cogently the political issues that inform the current cultural climate, but gosh, I am saddened that young children should spend the sunny carefree days of their youngest years in fear of being in a political minority. When I attended high school we had mock political conventions to nominate and elect student body officers. Mostly it was an exercise in how our political system operates ( and many of us got out of classes for a whole day to participate!)and was done for our education rather than the venomous motives done today. Personally I can tune it out, mute the news shows and political ads, but to know it has seeped down to elementary school frightens me a bit. Where exactly to put the blame? Well I suppose we could point fingers to many faces. In my opinion the educators could curtail this. They are closest to the situation as it happens. And a good teacher would curtail it in the interest of learning what these children need to learn at their respective levels and realizing that at the youngest age it is more important to play, learn the three R’s and how to get along. Politics can come later. Yet, all in all, it is symptomatic of a larger problem and I think you state it nicely in your final paragraph. Many on both sides of the political aisle feel that it begins with government, that government will solve the problem. That is putting cart before horse, in my opinion. It begins with oneself.

    Peace 😉

    Ken W.

  2. I agree with your blog entry and Ken W’s comment. The disease of polarization has indeed infected our society. I sense that each end of the spectrum is populated with the self-righteous-and their narrow minded belief is to impose their agenda on everyone else. The great experiment of ‘democracy’ is not over-and its future does scare me.

    1. The last straw for me was the debt deadlock of 2011. Seems no one on either side of the aisle wanted to compromise. Our congress-persons reminded me of stubborn old men who also act like children. Perhaps it is a sign that our culture is in its declining years, the behavior of our states-persons mimicking that of the elderly person when she/he gets very old. And all in the name of IDEAS. Few want to look at what is.

  3. Great post today! And WOW…it really does sadden me that elementary school kids are taking part in this nasty political show too! I can understand at a high school level. And while the kids are just being fed by their parents, it’s just not right that they should be discussing this kind of stuff at school.

    I like your way of thinking! How about Justine for President! 🙂

  4. “If I had one great Miss America wish for this country, it’s that I wish we could throw off intolerance and hatred. Someone who disagrees with us is not an enemy. At the end of the day, we all want the same things. We want a better life for our children, a stable and safe country to live in, the right to live within our own belief system, all wrapped up in peace and prosperity. Just because we don’t see eye to eye doesn’t mean we should perpetuate an environment of hatred. I’m trying to teach my children that tolerance is important, and you can’t do that with words alone. You have to live it. When Christ said, “love thy neighbor,” He meant it…and not simply when it’s convenient or when they share your world view. How do we teach our children to play nicely if we can’t?”

    I believe you are on the right track.
    I believe we should love one another.
    I believe we should teach our children by example.
    I think you’re already doing so.
    We truly must be the change we want to see in the world.
    Good work, Grasshopper.

    Be at peace,

    Paz

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