A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on teaching respect is vital, mainly fueled by media accounts of young white boys disrespecting a Native American Vietnam veteran. For the most part, the sentiments of the post are important, particularly teaching children to see the value and worth of every human being, regardless of race and cultural differences
But, I also included my disbelief that any “black Muslims” had prompted what I saw as disrespect, refusing to believe the mother of the child front and center of the controversy. But after a longer tape of the confrontation appeared, I realized that I was wrong, and that indeed there were Black males there instigating some of the encounters.
I admit that I was so emotional over what looked to be occurring that I failed to consider if there were more than one side to the story. There have now been copious media coverage on the encounter, especially examining how social media accounts can be used to misinform about other people’s actions, presenting only part of the truth.
Don’t get me wrong. I am old enough to know that the media will present wrong information. But what shocked me was the quickness by which people, including me, accepted the definition of the situation, even to the point that the school the boys attend was closed to protect the boys, some of whom had received death threats and their families harassed.
Have we lost our minds in this country? I think not, completely! My theory is that the division among us according to race/ethnicity, social class, immigration beliefs, and ideologies, much of it fueled by economic competition, is fodder used by parts of the media to increase our anger and further separate us.
I try not to immerse myself into the political media, not watching CNN or FOX news. Twenty-four hour news feeds and the power of social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, to influence the most extreme individuals on both sides of arguments results in the craziness we are experiencing in Washington, with 800,000 families undergoing unnecessary struggle and possible financial ruin.
I wanted to correct what I wrote, admitting that I did not know the other side of the story before reacting so emotionally to a picture. The full tape presented various instances of people screaming at each other, including grown men screaming at children. Respect goes both ways, from adults to children as well as vice versa.
What a mess I saw, and it really depressed me seeing so much hatred and lack of respect and determination to be heard, all others be damned. It made me realize my own responsibility to be careful of what I write and that I seek “the other side of the story” before I react and add to the mania created by maybe too much access to news.