Dear 70 million Americans,
Sorry for your loss, I know losing is tough especially when we all need a win to get us out of this Coronafunk but when I started writing this last week, I was feeling the need for unity, trying to reach out to get the world back on track. Then I discovered three of my students are being evicted, Rona is raging harder than it ever has and we cannot move forward because of the greatest election tantrum in history.
Please stop, the process was fair, the results are clear and the tantrum is helping no one and hurting many.
I coach two sports at a high school in a small town in Northern California and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that a team working together performs much better than one working apart. The players don’t have to like each other (course it helps but you can’t really force connectedness) but they do have to support each other, this is civility, understanding that together we thrive. Can you guess where I’m going with this?
We have a racial division in our town of about half Latino/Latina (Every time I use LatinX my students complain) and half Caucasian kids and one year my girl’s golf team had what I call a group of mean girls (just like the movie but on the golf course). They would degrade those they didn’t like with subtle comments plus they would talk with and practice only with their like-minded peers. This issue became the most important issue of the year, affecting performance, moral, and really impacting my ability to instill a passion for the sport.
I would love to say that we had a Kum-By-Ah moment, solved all the problems and had a great season but that was not the case. It required my best PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies) to intervene whenever I saw problems but by the end of the year things were better but in no way fixed.
I tell this story because I truly believe it is time to intervene with the direction of the country and that means we have to find a way to support each other and hopefully eventually learn to like each other at least on a human level.
I’m talking simple fundamentals, like, “You like to eat? Me too! You like to feel safe? Me too! You like clean air and water? Me too!” Maybe by doing this we can discover more similarities than differences.
Course, America is not a team working together for a common goal. We all have our own interests and ways of looking at the world, but it is past time to come together on a few shared priorities. And yes, solving climate change and homelessness and racial inequity should be at the top of our to do list but I’m talking about something else.
I’m talking about values: Civility, Empathy, Truth, that kind of thing. The values that have been beaten and left for dead these last four years. Because once we start sharing values the rest will follow. There’s a generation of kids who will emerge from this pandemic in rough shape. Months of staring at screens, interacting little, hugging no one, many food insecure or worried about eviction. It’s very hard to learn Algebra when you are worried about food and shelter.
The kids will need us, together, providing new opportunities, working hard and showing them how to really make America great again. It will happen, sooner or later (I’m a pathological optimist) but the speed will depend directly on how we work together.
I realize many of you aren’t ready to face this, you’re upset and searching for a way to make things more to your liking but Democracy is set up so that the people choose their leaders in a fair and transparent election process. The people have voted and the results are what they are.
I am not expecting miracles, just a simple agreement to work together to make the world a little better than it is today. Then if things are no better in four years, we can change it up again, that is one of the many great things about being an American.
But for now, let’s unify, and see what we can do.