“Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light.”
Every day, I find myself pondering, how on God’s earth did we as a society end up where we are today? I realize that social media has created multiple platforms for us to belittle and demonize each other. Anger reigns. Insults and name-calling have replaced thoughtful discourse. Unfortunately, the current POTUS regularly engages in bully tweeting and personal attacks. It appears that the prevailing mantra is “I don’t let the facts get in the way of my belief.” A snide put down has replaced a thoughtful response. We have found refuge in joining ideological tribes that will applaud and instigate our worst tendencies. At the extremes, the radical left and the radical right sound eerily similar. To these ideological extremists, there is no middle ground.
Today’s society looks and sounds worse than anything one would see on an elementary school playground. Yet, we adults, who are guilty of verbal rock-throwing, still insist on giving advice to young people on how to behave. Because of our reckless behavior, this tendency to give advice to our children is blatantly hypocritical. How can we talk to children about not being bullies; about not name-calling and respecting differences—physical, mental and otherwise? Kids are not dumb or clueless. They hear our words, but our actions overwhelm our pious advice. Essentially, we are saying to our kids, “do as I say, not as I do.”
Are we aware that we are creating a generation of hateful, spiteful and angry young people? It feels like we are robbing them of the ability to engage in constructive dialogue. We are promoting a style of discourse that seeks to set fire to the opposing point of view versus shedding light on a topic or issue. Talking heads on local and cable news shout over each other, refuse to answer direct questions and traffic in so-call alternative facts. Respect for another person’s opinion is now seen as a weakness. Verbal Cruelty is now used as a blunt instrument to beat the opponent into submission. I shudder to think about what type of leadership style will dominate when these children take over. However, for the record, I know that not all of our kids today are going over to the dark side. Because of them, I am hopeful.
In closing, I have not given up on our youth. In spite of the dire picture I have painted with my words, I realize that youth is very resilient and independent-minded. As someone once said, “You know great things are coming when everything seems to be going wrong. Old energy is clearing out for new energy to enter. Be patient!”