Today’s prompt: Pick a divisive issue currently in the news. Write a two-part post in which you take on two personas and approach the topic from both sides.
Both of me have already been struggling with the OU scandal that has been monopolizing the news the past few days. I live in Oklahoma, in the very town this happened in so this story for me is more than a fleeting headline.
The compassionate, empathetic, forgiving side of me would like to debate first. I realize these frat boys did something very, very wrong. There is nothing anyone could say or do to ever explain such a disgraceful chant. Do I believe racism is alive and well? You bet I do and it goes many, many different ways. Do I believe African Americans are the only victim? No, I do not. I remember when my son was in kindergarten. He pulled a handicap accessible fire alarm and was suspended from school for three days. Even at such a young age, the embarrassment and humiliation he had to face was excruciating for me to watch as a mom. He was so distraught and just driving on school property to drop my daughter off sent him into an emotional meltdown. It took all I could muster to give him the courage to walk back into that school. How does this apply to the boys at OU? If you watched those news reports you could see the hurt and shame on their faces as they packed their things and moved out of the house. Do I think they needed to be kicked out of school? No, sorry I don’t. Like it or not, we do not put together robots to attend schools who identify with every great thing the university identifies with. People have a right to say what they want, sing what they want and they have the right to have individual beliefs. What I do believe is that these boys were caught on video doing something that will disgrace them for the rest of their lives. They have to live with that guilt and humiliation that will far outlast an expulsion from a school. And let’s be honest, the world is not a big enough place to allow the punishment to end there. We love to throw stones and for some, this will become a long time commitment and fascination. I can’t help but wonder how I would feel if the dumbest thing I have ever done was aired on tv for the world to see. And do I have the right to finger point and demean when I am not free of sin in my own life? Show me one person who has not done or said something that should bring him shame and then maybe I will have a different perspective. Perhaps another consequence would have brought people together instead of divide them more. The double standard, the teaching and forgiving approach the university took with the athlete that physically assaulted a girl breaking her bones was much different than the zero policy the school took with these boys who assaulted with words. That is the problem with parenting and schools when it comes to discipline. It needs to be specific and it needs to be consistent. Imagine if we sat these boys in front of African American students who were devastated by the words and lack of consideration of these boys. Imagine if they could have had a real heart to heart conversation about how much this hurts the people it was directed at. Imagine if in the midst of their own humiliation and accountability, a handful of these boys experienced compassion and empathy for the first time for the people they hurt. Perhaps that punishment, understanding and healing would bring about real change and meaningful consequences. So tell me, this expulsion…was it to punish the boys or make the school look good? Did the University succeed in really teaching these boys and using their own power to turn these foolish, reckless boys into young, responsible men?
The spiteful, revengeful me believes those boys should pay. One affects the whole and if this is the attitude of a few frat boys on a bus than we should shut it down, we should shut them down and use this situation to send a very loud and clear message that this kind of behavior will not and should not be tolerated. These boys are an embarrassment to our town and cast shame on the university with all this negative attention the world is watching thanks to the diligent reporting of these worthy news stations. This information has to get out. People need to know that 2015 is not far enough away from the past to eliminate the terrible injustice that has gone on for far too long. We need to stop it in its tracks and send a clear message that these kinds of songs, these kinds of behaviors and these kinds of words are no longer acceptable and will come with severe consequences. We should start reading Facebook and private messages and listen to private phone conversations for even the slightest connotation of a racial slur of a racial tone. We should have a prison in the center of every town where we can publicly demean and shame these people until they lose their will to live altogether. That is the answer. Mistreat those who mistreat others. That will save the world, and isn’t that the common goal we all share? Don’t we want to forgive and move on and start over where people really are equal as human beings both in our eyes and in our hearts. Isn’t the goal to love everyone and be equal on every level despite the color of our skin with equality in opportunity, respect and dignity for every living person and a world free of hate, blame, vengeance, retribution, and superiority.
The common sense side of me has only one question. What exactly is our goal? When will the people, all the people be truly satisfied? When will our leaders stop dividing and start bringing us together as one nation under God. Can I even use that word anymore? When will the news media be an outlet to grow our hearts instead of growing our anger and hatred? When will everyone be accountable to do their part to end this hate once and for all? Let’s be honest, do we know? Is that really what we ALL want? Is that what our behavior is showing others?