Last summer I was at baseball practice with some other parents. One of the moms was giving us the blow by blow of an instance of bullying involving her son. Her account made it out to be pretty intense. As she spoke, I kept thinking that I was happy to have someone like her as a fellow parent in our Village.
She was a woman on a mission for unity and kindness. Bullying was unacceptable in our school. Yes, she wanted to protect her son, but her fury and passion stemmed from ending this behavior and abuse for all of the students. She said one thing that stayed with me, ‘It is up to us as parents to teach our children how to treat others as they grow’. At that moment, I respected her.
A few months later I was at a party with this same mom. Somehow the topic of politics came up and this same mom openly and with just as much passion, defended our current president. She spoke of his leadership skills and how he held people accountable for making fake news.
I didn’t respond to her comments. Thankfully. Because sometimes less is more, especially when you are already the outspoken mom of the crew. But her contradictory viewpoints struck a deep cord and stayed in my thoughts.
It has become the norm in our society that bullying of any kind is unacceptable. There are numerous anti-bullying campaigns, not for profits and even laws that work to protect our children from bullying.
Why is it acceptable to preach and advocate anti-bullying to our children but then defend the President of the United States for the same actions?
Now this is not a political conversation. I am not criticizing or defending right versus left ideologies. I am not questioning your loyalty to a specific party or political viewpoint. I am simply asking how the leader of our country can be supported as a leader when his daily actions are that of a bully?
Let’s put this in a different context that we can all relate to. Let’s put this in the context of a school.
What if the student body president of your child’s school, or (gasp) even a teacher spoke to your child as the President of the United States speaks to other humans every day? What if the tweets that the President of the United States is sending to the people he was elected to lead, were the tweets being sent to your teen from another teen?
As a parent, you would most likely alert the administration of the school. You would reach out to the bullying student’s parent or guardian. You would expect that student to be reprimanded in some way. You would not defend the actions and words of the bully. You would not insist it was taken out of context or that your son or daughter was spreading lies and the reaction was justified.
And let’s take this one level further. What if a teacher or principal spoke to your child, their teachers or the student body the way that the current President speaks to the press, elected officials and others?
What would you do if your child came home and told you he had an assembly that day to discuss current issues in the school. He then went on to say that at one point the principal singled out his teacher to say that his lessons were fake and not true in front of all of his students? What if your child’s teacher taught blatant lies and inaccurate facts in the classroom?
My fellow baseball mom would have reacted to any of the above instances with the same passion and intensity that she did when her son was bullied. She would have pushed the issue until unity and kindness within the Village was reached.
But why do we as adults and constituents allow less from our peers? Even more, from the people we elect to represent us and our values?
So how can the same people who would go to ends of the earth to end bullying among children, completely accept and even justify the same actions by the person who they voted for to lead our country?
What if we focus on the actions, not the politics. Would the baseball mom see that the president she so passionately supports is no different than the bully that victimized her son?
Maybe going back to the mindset and expectations of the way we expect people to treat our beloved children will create the change we need. I now approach any political conversation where someone defends the actions of the President differently. I simply ask them if they would be OK with our President speaking to their son or daughter in the way that he speaks to members of the press? And then I follow up with, ‘what if you saw another child attacking your child on social media the way that our current president attacks others on twitter’?
Let’s all ask the hard questions…