Recently, there has been immense chaos and uprising in our political world. While there have always been things that people disagree upon in politics, really our overall world, people are beginning to demand changes. Whether you are a National Rifle Association advocate or enemy, I’m sure we all agree upon the fact that something needs to change in our world, because if I have to hear about one more school shooting, I may just fall to pieces.
If you keep up with the news and current events, even a little, you will see that the common argument when it comes to this matter is one of two things. It’s either the mental health of kids, and the importance of providing quality care for those students suffering from mental struggles, or it’s the argument of taking guns away, and enforcing stricter laws when it comes to obtaining guns, etcetera.
I’m going to be honest, I think both of those arguments are important, need to be addressed, and changed in order to save our country from another heartbreaking tragedy, but you know what else I think would help? What if we could finally get kids to stop being so horrible to each other?
Last Wednesday was “National Rare Disease Day,” and it reminded me of all the times kids, and adults alike, treated my little brother like he was from another planet. We claim to have grown into this incredibly accepting society, who loves everyone, and doesn’t judge, but we still can’t seem to open our eyes to those who look differently, and not because they choose to.
Why aren’t we teaching our kids, not only to respect other children who look differently, or may struggle to see or hear things the way “normal” people do. but also to love them. I mean actually treat them equally. Let’s stop being fake for five minutes, but later saying the worst things that come to mind, and be a genuinely nice person. Why do we think we are too good to be friends with people who aren’t just like us?
I read the book “Wonder,” and just recently saw the movie, and to say that I cried through the movie would be an understatement. It was more like uncontrollable sobbing and being in need of a jumbo box of tissues for two hours. I say all that, because if you have seen the movie, or read the book, it’s the perfect example. There is a little boy, who looks incredibly different from kids his age. He has no cognitive difficulties, just physical, but he is treated like a total outsider. He befriends another boy, who pretends to be his friend just because he feels like he has to. Later, the boy realizes he actually wants to be friend with this kid, who may look a little different, but is the same kid he is, even sweeter and more genuine than the other friends his age. It may sound silly, putting such an example into a movie, but it’s such an incredible visual explanation.
If you have a family member or friend that gets picked on, stared at, or treated differently because they don’t look normal, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Let’s teach our kids, students, friends and family to be genuinely kind to kids who look different, but honestly, we need to remind our kids to be kind to everyone.
We can be so cruel, whether someone looks different, or we just decide not to like them, there is way too much bullying still happening in this world today. Can we try to stop kids from isolating themselves?
Although I’m partial to sticking up for kids with disabilities, I know of plenty of “normal” teenagers that feel so beaten down and bullied in school that they feel hopeless. Maybe their home life is bad, and then they come to school and are still treated like they don’t matter. Every single person in this world IS important and special, and I believe that each one of us serves a unique purpose in this life.
Are we setting a good example, as adults? I’m talking to myself here too. Are we treating people with true and sincere kindness? Or is it a surface level kindness that we can turn on and off as needed. Maybe if we acted kinder, and taught our kids to be more genuine in their interactions with others, we may have less problems.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think being kind is going to change everything, but it is absolutely a start. In the meantime, keep praying for these kids, because they are dealing with way more than they should be.
“Kinder than is necessary. Because it's not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
― R.J. Palacio, Wonder