Summary: Instead of respecting differences, we create more division. Here are thoughts on how to create “a perfect union”.
Dear Dr. Sylvia,
I was at a college football game recently and was hopping mad at the behavior of privileged young adults shouting slurs at the opposing team.
It seems like the lack of civility is everywhere. You can read about the game between The University of Oregon and Brigham Young University.
I realize there is nowhere to hide!!
A bit of background, I have been an educator in the public school system and a Superintendent for the past eight years. I started as a third-grade teacher and went up through the ranks.
We can demand stress management programs in schools.
I desire to make schools a place of profound creativity and emotional development for students and teachers. Teaching facts is not enough.
Above all, the general atmosphere is awful.
Everyone is on edge, looking over their shoulders to see when the next gun, fist, or taunt will destroy any good that may have been there.
Furthermore, I know that it is a waste of time to look for those to blame. Probably, It’s easier to go down this track than take responsibility to make change happen.
Sadly, there is much of what you call JUBLA (Judgment, Blame, and Attack).
In short, I would appreciate suggestions on how to turn in a more positive direction. How can I help my leadership team so that they can help the rest of the faculty and students?
Stress management programs must offer tools to de-stress effectively.
Most importantly, I am glad you are still hopeful. So am I.
I do want to address the lack of civility first.
I had friends at that game. Ugly words shouted against the opposing team from Brigham Young University condemned Mormonism.
What does it mean to have religious freedom?
In the same vein, what have we learned from history?
Ultimately, it often feels like destiny, that old patterns of discrimination and dominance of one group over the other are the world’s ways.
Is it worse now, or merely more out in the open? (I will answer in a minute).
The ways we handled stress as children for survival show up now.
For example, this made me recall what happened some years ago when there was an incident during a basketball game between the students of two high schools in Massachusetts.
This time, it started with ridiculing the Catholic High School students.
There was high-intensity shouting at the all-boys Catholic school team that it was a “sausage fest.” Yes, you know what they were talking about.
Remember back to an older presidential election when Mario Rubio talked about the size of Donald Trump’s hands with an adverse inference to an image like a sausage. Mr. Trump took up the challenge and told Rubio and the world not to worry; he was fine.
If our leaders talk like this, what can we expect from our children?
In choosing sides, there is both punch and counter punch.
The retort came in full force at the basketball game: “You killed Jesus.” This shouted to the rival school with many Jewish students.
Here is one more sad display of how our students behave. There were ugly racial chants that are all too common these days.
Until we learn methods to diminish the ugly side of stress, we will have winners and losers until we all lose.
I am appalled. I also want to blame. Who should I blame? Again, that is not clear.
Firstly, is it because of Donald Trump? His colleagues? Those who follow him? I wish it were that easy.
As a result, we would all get back to our lives and forget these deeper issues.
Here is another way to look at the situation.
Hopefully, we can learn and grow from an ancient myth that points in the right direction.
You see, I believe that behavior patterns will repeat and repeat until we transform them.
To repeat: Pattern repetition will haunt us for generations until we take a stand to stamp out the nastiness.
Perhaps somewhere on the planet, right now, another Pandora is ready to open the mysterious Box she was told never to open.
Here is Pandora’s story:
When Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus, the king of the gods,
was furious. Zeus wanted revenge, so he created a Box filled with evil and gave it to Pandora as a wedding gift. He expects her to open the Box and release the evil.
Zeus knew Pandora was curious and expected her to open the Box. Thus, evil would be released, and he would have his revenge.
Pandora innocently opened the Box, hoping to see silk gowns and gold bracelets. Instead, out of the Box poured all the evils of the world.
What poured out was disease, poverty, jealousy, anger, corruption, lying, stealing, bigotry, polarization, mean-spiritedness, contamination, war, pestilence, affairs, physical and sexual abuse, gun and knife fights, partisanship, and whatever else you can think of that resides in the negative realm of humankind.
It includes all that we prefer to avoid, deny or attack without thought of consequences, in the shape of ugly creatures (thugs, if you will).
Is all fair in love and war and elections?
Are we back in medieval times or ready for another holocaust, only this time in the United States?
We can learn and teach each other to reduce stress.
Hence, the story continues.
There was something left in Pandora’s Box, crying to be let out. She was not sure if it was safe.
However, trusting her instincts, she released the lid.
And there was HOPE.
It flew from the now open Box in the shape of a beautiful dragonfly. It healed all the wounds inflicted by evil, as only hope can do.
Stress Management Programs can be vastly helpful now.
The lesson from Pandora’s Box is clear. No matter how negative the situation, there is a positive still to be claimed. It’s there waiting to be let out of the Box.
Above all, in the present time, being stressed, lashing out, and looking for allies to be with us/against is the new normal.
It’s a toxic tea that includes social media and divisive politics.
We must offer techniques to handle stress and relationships more effectively.
Let’s hear it for HOPE!!!
By all means, words have the power to harm, hurt or heal. We are at rock bottom. Let’s hope that enough of us are ready to take a stand and say the crassness and demeaning will stop now.
In conclusion, here are methods to make that difference. My Stress Mastery online program is a step in the right direction.
Here’s to a better world,
PS. Please consider reading “Invisible Stress (It’s NOT What YOU Think!)” and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for ways to offer the program to your school or leadership team.