You’ve got to be carefully taught.


By now most of you have seen the photo or video of the young man and the the Native American elder in DC over the weekend while his companions snickered. The social media backlash has prompted a myriad of responses. Heckling someone whose roots are deeper than yours as you tout desire to make our country great again, would be comical if not so sad. All this while attending a demonstration centered around the “sanctity of life” is ludicrous. What kind of life have they been brought up to value?

The institution these young people attend has issued an apology and condemns the actions. They responded, “This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person. The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

I’m just curious to know what needs ‘investigating’? Ummm…it’s not quite a case of he said/ she said, there’s actual video content. Are there extenuating circumstances that would make this behavior acceptable or justified?? Did we miss footage that could make this a reasonable action?

Oh…you’ll consider expelling those offenders, I get it. Let’s cut out the mold that festers cause the rest of the crop is fine. You wouldn’t want to taint the diocese or school with a few bad apples. If I sound critical, it’s cause I am. It’s too simplistic and easy. You pledge to educate these youth, the chaperones were tasked with their safety and well being, your faith institution was charged to instruct them on dignity and respect. Can you just drop the student and be exonerated from responsibility and blame?

Those charged with their safety stood around and allowed their wards to behave miserably. Did they condone them? Because conventional wisdom would lead one to believe this was fine or they would have stopped them, no? Was this shameful conduct something encouraged, because parenting and shepherding youth is about hindering bad conduct.

A learning institution is a reflection of the worst of its pupils as well as its best. What you’ve taught and how you have not, are represented in the human beings you churn through your doors. Regardless of graduation, confirmation, or baptism. It’s through your actions and inactions in your response. The message I hear loud and clear is that if you disgrace us, we’ll vote you off the island. There’s no lesson learned besides the one that says stay in lock step.

What happens to those we toss aside? Do they feel vilified? Vulnerable? Defensive? How do they live a better life and contribute to society afterwards? Is there a path back into a community? Who will they surround themselves with going forward and how do they find solace? How will they raise their children? Doesn’t, your faith teach penance, making amends and forgiveness?

What have you taught your parishioners and community about God and Jesus’ beliefs? What do they now know of justice, respect and neighborly love? If we were to grade you on what they’ve shown in the public arena, I don’t think you’d pass.

*I am updating my response because as I’ve viewed the information presented, I, just like many have made assumptions and conclusions that I should not have. I started to edit, but decided to let it stand, because I am just as guilty of assuming and for that I apologize. I still stand behind the message in my post which is that we cannot simply discard someone from our communities. Dismissing the wrong doings without owning up to them teaches us NOTHING. We have to decide if we are learning or just trying to prove something. I am reminded today that I need to own my words and actions, and when I am wrong, I need say so. We all failed, but I have hope and as long as we continue having the difficult conversations instead of slinging accusations we can do and be better. Yes, Richard Rodgers, you do indeed have to be carefully taught to hate. But we can also teach compassion, forgiveness and grow. I hope to do more of that going forward. CW 1/20/19


You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught

~Richard Rodgers

Community & Ecosystem Builder, Collaborator, Catalyst, Speaker/ Facilitator. Lover of words, ideas and people.

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