All of us – as progressive activists, bloggers, organizers, hell-raisers, trouble makers – whatever we self-identify as – have the opportunity to take action and turn the increasing violence and hate into a teachable moment.
I don’t think this will be a persuasive action; in other words, I don’t think that we’re going to change people’s limited and bigoted mind-set. But I think it’s a a chance to come together in a new way and connect with one another. So that when the threats, deaths, allegations become even more escalated, we will have enhanced our network of allies. I think of it as “laying pipe.”
I hope you consider using the Do Better tag on this platform and elsewhere. I feel that the hate that’s being spewed could be an opportunity that helps coalesce the new Civil Rights movement.
Please post your links if you participate in the comments section of this post or to the event page on Facebook. You can also use the #dobetter hashtag if you post to twitter. On Monday, I will do a roundup of what people wrote about, and I’m also hoping this action will help generate traffic.
We Can Do Better As Parents
My contribution to doing better comes from the life I live as a mother of three kids, all still minors, in K-12 grades because I believe our choices demonstrate for our kids what choices they should make. My choices aren’t for everyone but I’ve seen them pay dividends when it comes to the rejection of physical aggression by my kids.
We can do better with discipline
This is very controversial. I have close friends, very close friends, who use spanking as a threat and have on very rare occasions spanked their children. But short of it being the child going to the electrical outlet or in an extreme case of self-defense on a playground or other social situation, we teach that there is always an alternative and that spanking is just another form of bullying along the spectrum of violence. I know – there are many supporters of spanking, and there are many like me as well. But if we want to see the use of violence diminish, I don’t see how we do that without leaving that supposed tool of parenting in the tool chest permanently.
We can do better in toy and amusement selections: my kids don’t have toy weapons – not even squirt guns
This is another controversial path I’ve chosen but even when one of my kids got a set of toy tanks, I took the unopened package and donated it. We have no light sabers, no swords, no darts. Yes, kids take sticks. Yes, kids go to other kids’ homes where these things can be found. Yes, they view the use of these things in cartoons, in movies and in video games. But eliminating them as a toy choice means they have to choose other methods to be in charge when they’re role-playing – like maybe their brain and their words – and not a weapon. (And by the way, when someone tried to give my daughter a Bratz lunchbox filled to brim with Sweeties kind of candy, that went to the donation bin too.) And don’t think for a minute that I don’t control how much time they spend with the screens either.
We can do better in encouraging our kids to stand up and speak out
My kids have been teased and/or bullied and they’ve also each stood up for kids who were being bullied. But when my oldest was still in grade school, there was an incident that involved one or two kids bullying him and three or so others egging on those two. All five got written up. The mother of one of the eggers-on called me and was upset. She wanted to know why I’d have her kid written up when in her mind there was no direct bullying. I said, because he encouraged and laughed as the bullying went on and in my mind, that was enabling the bullies. The school of course had the final say for who got written up anyway and clearly the school felt the eggers-on should be disciplined. But the mother said to me, and I’ll never forget this, “But now he’ll always have that in his record.” Well – yeah. And maybe it will make him think twice. We should always think twice – before being silent, enabling or speaking out. And choose the right action.
As parents, we play an enormous role in setting the stage for how acceptable our kids will view violence as an option. I believe it’s our obligation to equip them with every single tool possible so that they may never need to use violence to resolve or solve a single thing.
On the eve of the Tony awards, what better song than this to inspire us all to be competitive when it comes to doing better, making better choices than violence?