Ivan Natividad: Out of the mouths of babes
On the road, I sometimes get upset when I encounter a bad driver.
You can call it road rage, but my mother would call it what happens when you have hypertension, high blood pressure, don’t exercise and eat too many fatty foods.
In my case, she’s probably right.
The other day while driving my son to school, I found myself on northbound Highway 49 alongside a driver that was quickly darting back and forth from lane to lane. The man decided to speed up along my left side to cut me off. Due to a lack of foresight, the driver didn’t realize that traffic had begun to pile up in the lane from other vehicles merging in from the onramp.
To avoid hitting the car in front of him the driver slammed on his brakes immediately after cutting in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes, and causing a similar domino effect to occur with the drivers behind me. It was reckless and prolonged the traffic, which would have been momentary if it weren’t for him.
Needless to say I was upset.
So I’m sitting there yelling at him from the confines of my own car, honking my horn on full blast as to drown out the obscenities I didn’t want my son to hear.
As the traffic dispersed the driver sped off. And I sat there still sullen and enraged.
“Papa you should relax and breathe next time that happens,” I hear my son say from the back seat.
“You’re right bud, that’s a good idea,” I responded, though under my breath I whispered to myself “Why don’t you work on ‘breathing’ when I shampoo your hair before lecturing me? … Figure out how to ‘relax’ and not freak out when you’ve got soap in your eyes.”
Deflecting at its best, right?
That in a nutshell is how I feel some adults reacted online to the recent National School Walkout local students participated in on March 14.
In particular comments calling the kids “idiots” and “stupid” or “dumb as a bag of rocks.” Other adults commented even calling them “retarded” urging the students to “go back to eating Tide pods.”
Digital road rage.
If we want youth to think critically before they act, maybe we as adults should think critically before we internet speak.
Is it really productive to call children a bunch of names mocking their intelligence just because they did something that does not align with your personal beliefs on a specific issue?
Remember, these kids are on the internet, too.
“Well that’s life … If you can’t take criticism then you won’t make it in this world kid.”
But there is a difference between constructive criticism and infantile insults, the latter being dismissive.
Criticize adults or institutions that participated in the walkout. Talk about the Second Amendment and why you think it is important to preserve. Stress the importance of knowing what you are protesting before taking action. But don’t sit behind your computer painting a broad ideological brush on these kids by calling them names.
That is dismissive.
And if anything, these students need more than just disparaging remarks and silly sand box words.
They need someone to listen to them. They need guidance. They need a real opportunity to learn from their elders in the community, not just sly remarks on how you think the future is “bleak” because what they are doing “won’t do anything.”
It is not naive to believe in something so wholeheartedly that it brings you to action, or to commit to a belief in something without knowing the end game. That takes courage.
As our Editorial Board put it last week “The actions of these students, regardless of your own political persuasion, should be commended. This is what we want — an educated, participatory electorate that is engaged in local and national discourse.”
I tend to agree. In the long run the less apathetic and the more educated future generations are the better off we will be.
In both 2012 and 2016, nearly 40 percent of the American electorate did not vote; and that is the norm.
The adults are definitely doing something wrong. Something has to change.
Today, during “March for our lives” families and students will take to the streets of major cities around the country “to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.”
Likely, some of our local students will attend this event then come back home. Some of us might feel the need to criticize their participation in the march. Maybe this time, though, we can forget the name-calling. Because the bottom line is the future is theirs, and when addressing complex issues like this it benefits the youth to have adults who are open to a productive discussion.
We only know as much as we are willing to learn, so maybe it’s time we listen to them instead of dismissing their ideas and beliefs as naiveté and ignorance.
Relax. Breathe. Drive.
Ivan Natividad is Digital Editor at The Union. To contact him call 530-477-4242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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