Commentary: With the election now over, thre are no more attack ads. People are no longer be pounding the podium as they demagogue their way through yet another speech filled with sarcastic accusations, angry denials and empty promises.
Little boys tend to put their hands in a lot of places they shouldn’t when they’re outside playing with their friends.
So they’re constantly getting splinters – or "things," as I used to call them – in their fingers. Even now, all these many years later, I still haven’t figured out how an object so tiny could cause that much pain.
When you’re a kid, it’s always your mom who takes away that hurt, no matter what it is, and such was the case with these splinters. Mom would open the door to the medicine cabinet, grab the tweezers off the bottom shelf, and, like a skilled surgeon, carefully pluck the unwanted sliver from my finger. And immediately, I would feel better – a whole heckuva lot better, in fact.
Those times and my mom are both long gone, but they were on my mind these last several weeks as the campaign for president neared its end. Although I am writing this before Election Day, I can assure you that come last Wednesday morning, I immediately felt better – a whole heckuva lot better, in fact – since a big pain – an ugly piece of human behavior - had been eradicated from my life.
I wouldn’t have to watch any more attack ads. People would no longer be pounding the podium as they demagogued their way through yet another speech filled with sarcastic accusations, angry denials and empty promises.
After a while, it all became just irritating noise that made my head feel as if it were about ready to explode.
And now, as you read this, it’s finally over.
As I wrote several years ago in this same space, I’m all for spirited campaigns in which the candidates – and those who support them – are not just enthusiastic, but rather deeply passionate. That’s the premise on which this country was built, that you need to stand up and fight for what you believe in. You can’t be a wallflower and slink into the corner, trying to hide from the bright lights.
Indeed, if we ever lose that vim-and-vigor persona, we’re done.
But at the same time, you can go too far. You can have too much of anything, and such was the case in this year’s presidential campaign – from both sides of the aisle. What we have just witnessed was not what our forefathers had in mind when they laid the groundwork for our government. If they were here, then they would be shocked, disappointed and embarrassed at the extraordinarily juvenile, rude, disrespectful and condescending behavior from two people vying for the job as the leader of the free world.
Based on how they acted, you wouldn’t hire either one of them to clean up after your dog. Your dog deserves better than that.
And so do we.
As such, then, it’s up to us to stop it – if at all it can be stopped. As long as we play along with it, tolerate it, condone it, validate it and even fuel it, it will get only progressively worse.
A 2020 campaign that makes this year’s look like an ice cream social in the church yard?
Now there’s a thought that will make your blood run cold.
We can’t go through again. We just can’t. We are making fools of ourselves in front of the entire world. That’s what you should expect from the most powerful and accomplished country in the history of civilization.
About two weeks ago, I saw a poster on the back wall of a middle school classroom. It was entitled, "10 Great Ways to Treat Others."
Now, in that it is geared to sixth- seventh- and eight-graders, you may laugh at the relevance of it in an adult world. You may think it’s ridiculous to even consider the possibility that there might be a lesson for all of us big people – you know, the smart ones, the ones who have it all figured out.
I get that, but all of us – every single, solitary one of us – were taught these same things at one point early in our lives. We believed them and tried to adhere to them as best as we could. We knew that was the right thing to do.
Yet, somewhere along the way, we started veering off course, and now we’re so far from where we need to be – where we once were not that terribly long ago – that we need a GPS to find our way back. And maybe not even that will help.
As I read them one by one, I nodded in agreement, and then sadly I realized that I had violated all of them – in just the last week.
If I can’t get my own act together, then how can I expect anyone else – in or out of a nasty presidential campaign -- to do so?
Anyway, here’s the list. See where you fit in:
1. Use kind words.
2. Help when you can.
3. Share and take turns.
4. Listen to what others have to say.
5. Be honest and truthful.
6. Think before you talk or act.
7. Remember your manners.
8. Hold your temper.
9. Think about the feelings of others.
10. Work and play fairly.