Even as a music teacher in an elementary school, politics sometimes try to creep into class time. Because my job is to teach music, I will discuss anything relevant to the current day’s lesson, and then move on. I highly respect my position in training young children, and the boundaries I must keep.
What has hurt my heart most deeply is the ugliness or nastiness that my students tend to mirror when the conversation begins. The oldest children in my class are about 10 years old. They haven’t pondered the issues or made choices for themselves — by and large, they are mirroring what they have observed in the adults in their lives.
Personally, I don’t have a lot of regard for either party’s candidate — or for the two leading minor candidates and the antics that I see broadcast in the news. What I see are adults behaving badly. Sure, the stress of the campaign will eventually get to anyone. An occaisional outburst might be explainable. In my mind, however, the constant mud slinging of American politics is completely inexcusable. Our country is more divided than it has been in my memory — and we are more likely to very our countrymen (and women) as enemies than ever before.
What does it say about us, the everyday citizens, when we embrace a news media that earns its keep by finding the darkest, most salacious, and most disgusting details and publishing them until they become normal fare?
Why are we so content to let media give us the details and not do research ourselves?
When did it become ok to champion leaders who behave like children in the public and who are of such questionable character that they are under investigation or on trial for crimes?
When did we forget that we have young, impressionable future leaders watching all of this and framing their thoughts and opinions on the words and actions of the adults in our lives?
What are we supposed to think when gun sales are soaring immediately preceding an election? Are the people buying them terrified of an unwarrranted government seizure of civil liberties, or are they being purchased by those who are planning to overthrow any leader elected that they don’t like? Should be we terrified of riots?
As Americans, who are we and what has happened to us?
The people still hold the power in this country. The question to me is, are we still responsible and mature enough as citizens to be equal to the duties, loyalty, and dependability such power requires?
I hope, as Americans, that whatever happens on election day, we will pull together, take care of each other, and seek the COMMON good. (Yes, I mean that we just might put the needs of our neighbors and communities ahead of our wants!)
I hope that we remember the younger citizens of this country who don’t have a voice yet but who are watching and imitating us as their examples of adulthood. I hope that we will remember our commitiments to them.
I hope that we will remember what “allegiance” and “one nation” really mean and that we will embrace the ideals that thousands of good men and women have died to protect and give to us.
I hope that, whatever the outcome of this election, we will embrace being Americans as being of the highest honor, and not settle for anything less from ourselves.