Why I Think Participation Trophies are a Bad Idea

I have a bunch of things circling around in my mind that are, apparently, keeping me from working today. I don’t really want to talk about them because I’ve made it a point to not discuss politics online, and so far I’ve managed to keep that vow.

Recently, I stopped watching the national news. This is a huge departure for me because I have always enjoyed staying informed and I’ve liked telling myself that I was in-the-know about world issues. I liked being able to weigh in on current events.

Throughout the election cycle that led to the election 2016 here in the US, I found myself either amused or annoyed by news reporters who continually got everything wrong. Week after week on Sunday morning political shows, pundits would predict that “this” (whatever Trump said that week) was it. This was the thing that would end the charade and send him packing. Week after week, they were wrong, but it didn’t stop them from making the same prediction the following week.

220px-cronkitenasaI grew up in a time when reporters made an effort to offer unbiased reports. I’m sure they didn’t always succeed, but I lived in a day when a television reporter was named The Most Trusted Man in America. As the election cruised on month after month, year after year, and as reporters became less and less adept at reading the public and less concerned about sharing personal bias, I realized that I was losing respect and trust in what they were saying.

By election day, as clueless reporters reacted with stunned shock over the election results, I realized I had no trust left in any reporter I could name. How could they have been so blind, so out of touch, as to not have seen the possibility? How can I believe anything someone that out of touch might say?

By inauguration day, as I found myself doubting everything everyone said, I realized I could no longer listen to what they had to say and retain my sanity. I find it difficult to understand why anyone is still listening to them at all, much less why anyone would believe what they’re saying. Yet social media is becoming more volatile every day, as people argue over their personal biased perceptions of what some news biased reporter or blogger has said.

So I’ve given up the national news and national news programs. I still care about my local news and the weather reports. I think it might be a good idea to know if there’s a hurricane heading my way. But beyond that, I’m tired of listening.

Most of my thoughts today aren’t political, they’re social and cultural.

Let’s say you’re one of the people with whom I disagree politically. Have you noticed that I make it a point not to discuss politics publicly? Are you aware that one of the key reasons for making that decision is my desire not to insult you by saying how misguided, uneducated, and uninformed your views seem to me? I might not argue my views or shove them in your face on a regular basis, but I am human enough to believe my views are the educated, well-reasoned ones and yours are … well, not.

But you’re my friend. I cling to the belief that our differences are what make our country great. Apparently, we disagree on that point, too. You seem to believe that we must all think the same way, believe the same thing, and behave the same way. I vehemently disagree with you. I think you’re wrong, wrong, wrong. I’ve been told I’m very good with words. No matter how educated you think you are, I could probably hold my own with you in a discussion if I chose to do so. I just don’t choose to.

Is that socially irresponsible of me? I don’t think so. I’ve had my fill of pointless arguments in my lifetime. If you and I are sitting down at lunch and a subject arises, I’ll discuss it with you face-t0-face, rationally. If we can’t discuss it rationally, I can pay my check, pick up my bag and go home. I have no desire to force you to think as I think, but I would like you to consider my views and respect my right to think as I do.

I’m adult enough, old enough, smart enough, to realize that “facts” can be manufactured to prove any point, and that everyone labors under the belief that they have a moral duty, an obligation, to speak out against that which they think is wrong in our culture. That is true no matter what you’re speaking out against. Your moral outrage has no greater value than the other guy’s. What you consider my misguided opinion is probably an irrefutable fact in my head. I know for sure it works the other way around. I find some of your facts to represent a disturbingly distorted perspective.

bull-unsplashIt isn’t your opinion that disturbs me. It’s your refusal to treat people with respect that is making me lose respect for you. Even though I don’t think the same way you do, I have always tried to show you respect. I have defended your right to think and feel and believe the way you do  Your refusal to allow others the same basic rights is causing me to lose respect for you. Your actions now are pointing out that all your talk about how others should treat people was just a load of bullshit. (Sorry to those who are offended by language, but I can’t think of another word strong enough. Cow dung and manure just don’t have the same impact.)

What I hear you saying now, and what I realize you’ve been saying all along, is that you want everyone in the world show you respect, but you have no intention of showing respect to anyone with whom you don’t agree. You want everyone love and accept you, but you don’t recognize as valid anyone else’s desire for the same thing and you have no intention of showing love or acceptance to anyone with whom you don’t agree.

I think we may be seeing the result of an entire generation or two of children who were awarded trophies just for being on the team. Children who weren’t held back in school because even though they hadn’t learned enough, adults were more worried about hurting  feelings than providing quality education. We have adults now working, raising families, and voting who have never learned how to lose, never learned how to get over something, and never learned how to move on.

I see you teaching your children that hate is okay as long as they hate the thing you hate. I see you filling your children with fear and teaching them to throw tantrums to get what they want, and my heart hurts. I think of future generations who are going to have to reinvent the wheel, to go through what my generation went through in the 60s and 70s as we learned how not to hate what our parents hated and how not to fear something that didn’t actually exist. I thought those days were behind us, but I realize now that they are not. The tide has turned, the script has flipped, but the dialogue is exactly the same.



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