Our words have weight. They are weighty enough to inspire people for both good and ill. As I head into my career as a teacher, I pledge to do all that I can to stress this to my students. Respect others. Treat others they way you want to be treated. These little nuggets of wisdom are the building blocks of character. However, the world, the country, the communities in which my students live seem to contradict these every day.
Our politicians demonize their opponents to the point of inciting violence. Is that what motivated Jared Lee Loughner to gun down innocent people at peaceable gathering where constituents could meet and talk with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords? His motivations are still begin investigated, but it has been established that he was anti-government, racist, and anti-Semetic to name a few. Former Gov. Sarah Palin had put up a “hit list” of sorts on her website with the names and faces of her opponents in the center of the cross hairs. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was on that list.
Networks create so called “reality” shows like “The Jersey Shore” and the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” that glorify triviality, meanspiritedness, narcissism, and sexual promiscuity.
I am an advocate of technology and technological advancement. Increasingly, though we are using technology in ways that alienate and isolate each other. We hide behind texts, social-networking tools (Facebook, Twitter), IMs and e-mails to degrade and bully each other.
I recently had to sit my daughter down for a long talk about best practices in texting. We finally decided to get her a cell phone. When she texted a friend and messaged something quite mean to another girl, that “friend” unleashed a cavalcade of obscene, vitrolic words back to daughter that gave me pause. Granted that my daughter was wrong in her initial text, but what she said did not warrant that sort of speech. Whew! My daughter apologized in subsequent texts and after a few more obscene messages from the “friend” they were “cool” again. This was an opportunity I took to educate my daughter on the weight of our words. The importance of being respectful at all times. I told her that she should never put messages into the cloud that she wouldn’t want the whole world to see. That she should draw a line at what she says even in just. My daughter is not the autonomous owner of the phone. There are rules attached to her being able to use it and we can check it at any time. I doubt if the other girls’ parents have seen how they talk to one another. Wow! This will not be the end of our heart to heart about this.
So this is my pledge: to spread moral intelligence to my students. Who will help the adults?