Saturday, November 12, 2016

Valuing Values

The other night, my husband and I were watching American Pickers "On Demand," and a political commercial came on slamming Hillary Clinton.  Within five minutes, another followed, this time slamming Donald Trump.  I was suitably outraged, because it was THURSDAY, and the election was over, and, well, I was truly looking forward to no more mudslinging for the foreseeable future! Bruce talked me off the ledge, explaining that the show was essentially, prerecorded.

This political season has been marked by one thing:  news media AND candidates who spent less time talking about long-range plans for the country, and more time focused on the values, or lack thereof, of the opponents. The best that they seemed to be able to do was to point out exactly how deficient the opponent was when it came to basic societal decency.

 Values Education

A common theme in many schools these days is one of "Positive Behavior," rewarding good, rather than criticizing students for infractions.  While there are folks on both sides of the actual effectiveness of this model,  it does seem to appear that there are many students in classes who choose to act one way at school, and entirely differently in the presence of their parents.  This works both positively and negatively.  Some parents are shocked to find that their rambunctious offspring are perfect angels in school, while others discover, with great horror, the exact opposite.  There is definitely a trend, however, for values or character education in our schools these days.

We're trying to engage our students in being better people.  As I drove this morning, it occurred to me that society is encouraging and expecting schools to "fix" this generation of kids.  Make them appreciate the little things, be respectful, be kind, be accepting of each other, not bully others.  The anti-Clinton commercials and the anti-Trump commercials angered everyone, and further divided an already divided nation, yet they shared a common theme:  VALUES.  Neither side liked the values displayed by the other.

A comment left on my aunt's blog resonated with me.  The quote is attributed to Joe Piscopo, although I haven't been able to verify it:

 "A president doesn’t make America. We do. America is awesome because of Americans. The better we are, the better America is." Volunteer. Donate to causes you care about. Help out your neighbor. Love each other. Pray. DO whatever it is you think our country needs on whatever level you can. It starts with you, and your actions matter.
That is what is most important - what we the people do.
So maybe, just maybe, this election is more about the common theme, and that we, as Americans, can step up and help the parents, teachers, and, heck the whole world, by figuring out what we value, and move towards instilling those values in the world.  

Even if we don't need to do it because it will look good on a college or job application. Even if nobody has asked or expects us to do something kind.  We need to DO whatever it is that we think our country needs, on whatever level we can.  And yes, actions matter.  We can move this nation to one of character, rather than a bunch of hyped up characters.

Value values.  Pass it on.