The last few months ( well…lets be honest, more like the last two years) have been a steady increase of hate speech, vitriolic insults, and conniving behavior from those who are supposed to be our nations leaders. Most political campaigns ‘go negative’ and do so pretty hastily. However, this election season has been particularly vicious and caused even the most avid participants in the political process to turn off the television and look for something slightly more upbeat to focus their attention on ( maybe the Walking Dead will be less gruesome) .
Now that it is over, Americans are in now divided into one of three categories: 1) The Loyal Trump Supporter who is jumping for joy in celebration at their long awaited victory…chanting “Glory Days, here we come.”; 2) The disillusioned, fearful, and confused Hillary supporter who is desperately searching for answers…(and lets be honest, a security blanket to hide safely under and pray it was all just a bad dream that will soon disappear); and 3) the apathetic soul who didn’t want either option and is just happy its over and ready to move on to the next big thing.
Whatever category you fall into, it is generally agreed upon that this was one of the most shocking and controversial elections in generations. One that may in fact change the way the election process proceeds from here on out.
Many who fall into the second category have resorted to villainous speech reminiscent of those we so abhorred on the opposite side of the party line not so long ago. Rather than gracefully accept the result and work to make things better from within, many have taken to violent protests, online threats, and cruel comments made towards anyone they deem responsible or representative of the new world order that has taken power. Most recently, the target has landed on our new First Lady, Melania Trump. From designers refusing to dress her and commentators judging her parental decisions to people going so far as to call her a slut and shame her for posing nude many years ago as part of her job as a model.
Now let me be say, without question, I’m the last person who would ever be caught praising our new first couple. I’m absolutely disappointed in the fact that our country (and I do say “our” because despite our difference we are one nation, united always) has made the choice we have made, simply because Donald Trump isn’t a traditional politician and out of some misguided idea that he will be more honest or upfront than a politician (I mean, he is a business man, lies and manipulation are all a part of the business world).
However, it’s important to remember, however much we disagree or dislike someone, hate and cruelty are never appropriate. We do not need to become like those we oppose by resorting to fear tactics and hate speech. Melania Trump, while she is not my choice for a First Lady, is not the person you are angry with. She is not the one who failed to show up to the polls and vote. She is not the American public who stayed home and did not have their voice heard. Also, we must note….she is not Donald Trump.
As EJ Dickson from Refinery29 stated, “Melania Trump is not her husband, nor does she necessarily share his views; throughout his campaign, she has made a concentrated effort to avoid articulating political views of any kind, which is totally fine, because she has no obligation to do so. And she certainly has no obligation to apologize for or be ashamed of taking nude photos, something that she did more than 20 years ago as part of her job.”
What we as the American public need to remember is that whether we agree or not, we still have to live in this world together. We still have to live, raise children, and find a way to keep this country moving forward in the right direction. This can only be done if we work together. We must find the character and integrity within us to work with the Trump administration to make things happen and to protect our interests. Opposition will only result in a stand still and little action.
More importantly, we must set an example for the youth of American about grace and humility. They need to see us win (and lose) with grace and see that we are able to resolve differences in a positive and productive way. Not with violence and cruelty.
Now, many are making the argument that Donald Trump Melania are not the kind of role models that we want for our children, but to that I must say if you are teaching your children to look to our President or First Lady (whoever it is) as a role model, your priorities are skewed already.
As I think on this I am reminded of the a lesson my dad taught me a long time ago and it is still true today: your only role models for how to be a good man or woman should be your parents ( substitute family members who are important to your life if you don’t have your parents in your life) and Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian or religious than maybe you seek that guidance in whatever faith you do have or someone in your life who you are close to.
The point remains: writers, actors, celebrities, politicians, people who are well known by the world should not be your role models. People are human. Humans make mistakes, they let you down, they do things wrong on occasion. While a parent or family member will make mistakes as well, they know you personally and they have a direct interest in helping you to be the best person you can be. It’s important to learn how to be a person with character, honor, and integrity and the best person to teach you is someone you know and love.
While people from fame and notoriety can be people you admire or respect for various things they have said or done, it’s important to remember to keep your priorities in order.
Having said that, no matter what you teach your kids, they do see what the adults in their lives do. They will be impacted by how we behave, what we say, and what we teach them. Teaching your kids to have respect for others is one of the most important lessons you can impart on the youth of today. As an aunt, and a high school teacher, I can tell you that I see how few kids are taught this simple truth. We as the adults must set the standard and be the example.
Retaliation, Violence, hate speech, and shaming of others is never okay and it is definitely not the example we should be setting for the ones who are watching us.Remember when you speak, others are listening. When you act, others are watching.
To quote one of my favorite television shows, (Whedonites Unite) “We live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be.”
Be the change you want to see in the world.