As adults, we are quick to correct children’s behaviour.
“Treat someone how you’d like to be treated.”
“If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
“You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” (Which by the way, I don’t love because anyone is allowed to feel upset or have emotions, but I get the sentiment: you can’t always get what you want, and while you can be upset with that, you need to accept the outcome.)
This past week, I’ve seen far too many adults not heed the very words of advice we give to children, and WE should be the ones setting the example.
I’m talking about the fallout of the 2019 Canadian federal election. I’m not here to talk about whether the results of the election were good or bad: everyone has their opinion on it. And everyone is allowed to have their opinion on it.
The problem is when we go from stating our opinion to attacking people, and we all know we’ve seen it. Every Sunday during the campaign, I’ve had to read the comments under election stories posted to The Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post. I’m so thankful I didn’t have to moderate comments post-election, but all you have to do is open up Facebook or Twitter and it’s a shit storm of hate.
You’re an idiot if you voted this way, you’re a racist if you voted this way, we want to separate, you’re a redneck if you want to separate, blah blah blah. Enough.
Someone felt inclined to spray paint “cunt” across Catherine McKenna’s face on her campaign office. I have no words.
I hope I never have to read another comment saying, “Trudeau should be hung for treason.” Don’t think that isn’t posted often, because it is.
I’d like to remind people who write such things: be grateful you live in a country where you can express that kind of opinion in a public forum without being kidnapped, tortured, and murdered, because in many other countries, that’s what would happen if you dared to speak so brazenly.
Your kids are watching. Your friends’ kids are watching. And then you know what happens? They call each other names, and why wouldn’t they? It’s what’s being modelled for them.
Last week, my son nonchalantly told me two boys in his class called him a baby. That’s because someone called THEM a baby.
When a friend asked me this week, “How are you doing, really?” I lost it and burst into tears. I’ve definitely internalized everyone’s mean comments, and because I both love politics and work as a journalist, I can’t just ignore them. And like any parent, my heart breaks thinking of my child being picked on.
You are allowed to be upset about the election results. Almost everybody is, no matter who they supported. But if we go back to the whole “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset,” I would expect adults to be better able to control their emotions, their actions, their REACTIONS when their “team” doesn’t win. And that’s what happened here. A team wins, a team loses, we all move on with our lives. It’s not to say there aren’t real issues: there are. Name-calling is not how we find solutions.
Last week, a mother from Warman died in childbirth, leaving her husband with a newborn in NICU and two other little ones. All of a sudden, the outcome of an election seems pretty inconsequential, don’t you think? It’s definitely not worth telling your neighbour or friend they’re an idiot for voting a certain way. Her untimely death serves as a reminder of what is important, and that at the end of the day, we all want to be loved. We all want what is best for our children and our future. How we do that may look different for each of us, but we have more in common than not. Let’s hold onto that instead of exploiting our differences.
Adults, we need to do better. Children are watching. They are literally looking up to us, so let’s be the role models they deserve. The next time someone comments, “Kids these days aren’t very nice” or “Kids are bullies,” check yourself. Are you part of the problem or the solution? What kind of behaviour are you modelling? And let’s all commit to doing better and to choosing kindness.