Communication is a delicate matter. Some would say communicating with small children is extra difficult. They haven’t mastered language and, therefore, they cannot make their needs precisely known. This seems very logical.
What children have to offer, though, is an unbiased view of the world. Yes, they are self-centered. It is themselves against the world. Yet, their honesty is quite refreshing and often funny.
For some time, I have scoffed at the efforts in Early Childhood Education to do away with competition. My argument was that life is a competitive sport and learning to lose, with grace, cannot be taught without it. I have revisited this idea, and although I still find it valid, I am willing to see a benefit to reducing competition. Yet, the common practice of giving everyone a trophy is absolutely absurd and won’t teach them what I believe is the most important lesson. Insisting that everyone wins implies that any trophy is a fully worthy kind of goal and “fighting/competing” is never required for the BIG win. We want kids to realize that they must compete but, sharpening competitive skills, should comprise growing up to compete against problems, not directly against our comrades. We must not buy into making everyone “feel” good while reducing the motivation to DO good. No one vote, one act of kindness, or one “wrong” corrected, can change the world. Winning requires a group effort and a truthful definition, of the competition, includes identifying who/what the real adversary is, not just an “eye on the prize” trophy at all (or no) effort or cost.
What brought me to this new enlightenment was my heartfelt concern over the division in our country today. We, Americans, aren’t doing well in efforts to solve problems because we are focused on competing with each other. (Yikes…”divide and conquer” has caused the demise of other thriving societies. I hope you do not think we are impervious to that principle.)
Winning individual arguments has taken on a lopsided, more important, role than working together toward a collective victory. In politics, the largest amount of energy has been going into trumping each other’s advances. How did we lose sight of the fact that we belong to the same team and mission?
The tactic of demonizing each other’s motives is the worst of this. Time for us to ask ourselves the hard questions because any open-minded person (most of us) would admit we know ourselves better than the complexities of anyone else.
The most important question we must ask is, what do I want?
Be honest, after all, you are asking yourself.
Do I want a better country?
Can I make it better without a united effort?
Many of us are angry, who are we really angry with?
Am I buying into a media and political hype by embracing that there’s a “right” and “wrong” side to complex problems or that either/or arguments really help?
Let’s examine a few ridiculous, often not challenged, assumptions:
Republicans don’t care about poor people, gays/lesbians, women, minorities or the elderly.
Democrats hate America and would rather consort with terrorists than work with Republicans.
Break it down then…There are gay, female, poor, minority and old , Republicans. There are veterans and public servants galore who are Democrats. Oh, they must be the ignorant ones who don’t recognize evil when they see it? Really?
So, what can we do about this?
Neither side deserves a trophy, at this moment. But if being united is essential to “winning” and getting what we want, what good does accepting “holier than thou” conclusions do?
I return you to children. Children should not even witness the current vicious (childish) behavior but I know what they would ask.
Why are you mad at each other?
Do you hate them?
Are the ones you’re mad at “bad” people?
When you’re done being mad, can we all have fun again?
My heart is sinking because the last question cuts right to the bone. What will their future, their country, look like when we are done “being mad”?