I can’t “tell” my dog that I’m going to feed her: I must feed her. I don’t have to “tell” her that I’m going somewhere; I pick up my keys or grab a jacket and she goes crazy. She loves “going in the truck” almost more than eating (and it’s necessary pack behavior), so she goes with me. Only some extraordinary circumstance will convince me to leave her behind – like – it’s simply too hot or too cold for her to wait in the truck for the time needed to do “whatever”. I can’t explain any of this to her, or buy her off with promises: I must deliver. Dogs keep us honest because we can’t use words to lie to them.
We train children to “believe” words. We tell them that we’re going to feed them, and then we don’t. We don’t have to feed them now – just shove a cookie or a bag of chips at them – a soda too; prop them in front of a “game” with more “promises” to pay attention to their needs. We then tell them that getting what they “want” (need) is a matter of having big dreams: it’s your fault if you can’t do it all on your own, but it sure makes us feel better about ignoring you. We then show them examples of people who succeed, not on their own, but with the real support of time, interest, coaching, “being there” and the sacrifices of important people in the child’s life. Can they make the distinction?
“I’ll order a pizza if you shut up for a few minutes, an hour, the rest of your life.”
“I promise I’ll straighten up when I get out of jail.”
Family relationships solved: Why are such “low standards” acceptable? Attention via social media defines “love”?
“I promise I won’t work this weekend; I’ll make some time to take you shopping; Here – why don’t I give you my credit card and you can go buy anything you want after school, just in case…”
“Next year, when profits improve, we’ll give your group a 15% raise, if we can, if the market doesn’t go south – or maybe 10% or 5% – a big Christmas party. You know how much the company depends on you; hang in there. We’re a family. How about a group hug?”
“Here’s a prescription for a new medication; maybe it will help you not to complain so much.”
We do this over and over and over; it’s done to us, over and over and over for the rest of our lives. This use of words to avoid interaction, action, thoughtfulness, obligation and sincerity – and the rewards of “standing behind our promises” – with action now – not a million words from now – have become Lingua Americana; spoiling commerce, politics, marriages, careers, jobs, neighborhoods, family relationships and education.
In WORDS we trust: but our words are not trustworthy. Is that too simple to understand?
Bullying, or any other dangerous behavior? Yeah, we’ll get right on this and fix it “forever.”
Schedule conferences; write strict guidelines; post “inspirational messages” in classrooms; do teacher training on how to spot bullying; make a list of parent complaints… offer after school programs for offending students; negotiate “better student behavior by offering a “good behavior certificate”. Confiscate weapons brought to school by students and tell them not to do that any more… Yatta, yatta, yatta!