I’ve worked as a special-education paraprofessional in an elementary school for 12 years. Every year we work harder, trying to teach children how to be kind, respectful and good citizens. In short, teaching them what it is that builds good character. It is getting harder and harder. So I wrote the following:
Stop it. Stop it right now. I don’t know what else to say to you — you Democrats, Republicans, news commentators, talk-show hosts, news reporters and writers.
I feel like a parent, hands thrown up in exasperation, barking: “Go to your rooms and don’t come out until you have something nice to say!”
You are in the public eye. And you, all of you, are responsible for what is happening right now in this country. You — all of you — cannot continue to retaliate against one another with these hurtful, hateful, demeaning and condemning words. This is not helping anyone.
Right now, you — none of you are helping those who are left behind, or those who are ahead, or those who are in the middle. Everyone needs to sit down and ask himself or herself: Is this the behavior that I want to teach the children in our country? Is this how I want them to lead when they grow up? Is this the example I really want to set? Are these the words and actions I want to be remembered by?
I don’t think so. You love this country, you love to report the news, you love to lead, you want to make a difference. So figure out how to do it, in a manner that is helpful to all. Show us.
Read “Love Your Enemies,” by Arthur C. Brooks. He has a lot of good advice for those of us who are not in elementary school any longer but still need to learn how to get along.
When you walk the halls of an elementary school, middle school or high school these days, you hear repeated the kind of words you are using, and it is not pretty. We should be scared. You are condoning and growing and encouraging a conversation of hateful disrespect.
If you are not stirring us up to these hateful emotions, you are turning us off with disgust. Please fix your words.
There are methods used in elementary schools to help teach children how important their words are. One of them is the acronym THINK. Before you speak, run this through your head:
Is what I’m about to say True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspiring?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
If you cannot answer yes to these questions — then don’t say it, don’t tweet it, don’t write it. Words are powerful, and right now your words and your articles and your headlines are not helpful, let alone inspiring. They are changing our country, and not for the better.
THINK before you speak, choose your words carefully, work together to help the people in this country whom you are responsible for leading and informing. Get rid of “the aisle.” Sit together. Talk considerately to each other. Learn to get along, and then come out of your rooms and do your jobs.
We need you. But we need a far better you.
Beret Guidera lives in Plymouth.