Editor’s note: This letter is from Kathy Wagner, a resident of Sandgate.
I am a senior citizen and am using my life’s experiences to form my opinions here. I read or listen to the news, of which the majority tends to be negative and leaning to one side. Media outlets will ofttimes take the liberty of editing peoples’ comments in a way that distorts what was actually said, in order to suit their agenda. They seem to, more often than not, voice their opinions, rather than investigate the story and simply state the facts, or what is known at the time. I don’t remember it always being like this in the past.
I think much of the change can be attributed to the modern education system. Much of the curriculum entrenched in the schools and universities tends to be negative regarding our country’s history. Throughout my school years we learned much more about our American history. We learned civics, studied the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, learned how our government worked — who was responsible for what — and had pride in our country. We admired our past leaders and their accomplishments. No one ever attempted to eliminate the periods of history that we disagreed with or thought unjust. You can’t judge the past through eyes of the present. Now you listen to the young agitators and protesters scream that our Founding Fathers were evil because they had slaves, so let’s destroy their monuments or rip their names off of universities and schools named for them! Today we watch people tear down statues of historical figures, and I wonder why authorities allow such behavior. Are they encouraging the youth to destroy what they don’t like? If they hear opinions differing from theirs, should we allow them to ban other ideas and debate from the campuses? Why would academia skim over incredible achievements, good deeds and success in overcoming tremendous obstacles to create this great, free country? They seem more ashamed than proud of the USA and are passing their prejudices on to the young, impressionable minds. It seems they are teaching children what to think instead of how to think!
I ponder how we’ve come to this point of such turmoil. Perhaps it started with the participation trophies. Ah, yes, let’s not hurt anyone’s feelings. Don’t just reward the person who trained hard to achieve a winning performance or the person who studied diligently to get As, but let’s diminish those achievements by rewarding those who don’t put forth their best effort or who only make minimal attempts to improve their “output” — either physical or mental. Do we really want to teach children that you don’t have to exert energy to get through life? Life for any living thing is a struggle — be it plant, animal or human. Life isn’t always fair, but you have a much better chance to succeed if you work hard, show ambition and have self esteem. That comes from within and you can’t blame someone else if it doesn’t happen for you.
God gave man a brain as well as emotions. The brain must think and analyze. Emotions are very influential forces, but perhaps the least reliable to deal with. In the short term it is easier to prey on peoples’ emotions, but for solving the serious problems which confront us, we need the thinking and analytical part of our body. If the youth is taught to hate our past, disparage man for destroying the planet, and blame someone else for their predicament, how will they ever cope in life? Success comes as we learn from our mistakes, occasionally failing but always getting up and trying again, and having ambition to better yourself and your life by your own deeds. You are entitled to very little in life and the sooner you realize that the better. Hate is never productive and leads to failure.
Let’s get beyond the nastiness in our discourse and become productive citizens. There are no safe spaces in the real world.
Sandgate, Bennington County