I’m asking about the protesters – the people reacting to the historic election in our country.
I’m asking because whoever they are, we didn’t serve them very well if they were students in our education system. It doesn’t help when we call them “spoiled brats” if we’re the ones who’ve spoiled them – or if we’ve participated in the system that graduated them with dreadful immaturity.
If we want to do something about the protesters – or the reasons they are protesting – we must see them for who they are and connect the dots that led them to bash windows and burn things when they experience strong feelings.
They may be the top 10%:
- You can be really smart and still not know how to resolve feelings and conflict.
- Being recognized as smart often puts you in places of leadership before you’re mature enough to lead well. Keeping your clip on “blue” or filling up your sticker chart sometimes says you’re just compliant; compliance and rebellion are two side of the same coin – and it’s a different kind of currency than maturity.
- When you’re really smart, teachers and parents may look the other way and ignore emotional immaturity or poor relational skills. Smart doesn’t always mean you know how to love well; “considering others” isn’t a section on the SAT.
They may be the drop-outs:
- The education system may have failed you if you didn’t get help when you needed it; it may have failed you if didn’t help you avoid the shame that comes with struggle.
- If you didn’t have help separating your identity as a good person from your struggles academically, unresolved issues could erupt into broken windows and street fires.
- If you haven’t yet learned how to ask for help from a safe and trusted source – and then receive the help you need, your emotions may be out of control at the moment.
They may be the ones in the middle:
- Graduating from high school (or college) doesn’t guarantee personal maturity.
- If you’ve gotten a trophy even when you didn’t win, you may not yet know how to resolve the painful feelings that come with losing – you’ve just been helped to gloss over them with another distraction.
- You may have done enough community service to check the box on your college application, but not been helped in really learning to resolve issues with your parents (or authority).
The behavior of the protesters may or may not be our fault, but the maturity of the citizens in our country is our responsibility if we desire to continue living in the freedom democracy invites us to enjoy – and protect.
America is great because America is good; a democracy thrives in a culture that is self-governed. Uh-oh.
We aren’t witnessing self-government in the kind of protests that include destruction of property, threats, and hate.
And for those of us that are of “mature” age…how are we going to help? May I offer a few thoughts and suggestions:
- Find help ourselves. Seek out relationships of trust – and receive the help we need to make the course-corrections necessary in our own lives. We are not safe leaders until we are honest about our own unresolved issues. Keep looking up – and trusting God with our stuff and our identity. Resolve to mature into a person that says “follow me” and others say “ok” – and that’s a good thing.
- Offer help to others. Yes, keep serving soup at the homeless shelter and buying toys for tots – but more than that – help the people. Get to know the homeless and the tots; help them resolve their hurt feelings. Give them a safe relationship of trust. Love one another – with yourself, not just with stuff.
- Live on purpose. Retirement is a false tradition, so is adolescence. Self-focused living is not the original design for our lives; it makes us sick. Dig deep for your passion that puts you in touch with people who hunger to learn and grow. And learn to live with the ones that aren’t yet hungry so that they are healed and restored; loss of appetite is the first sign of sickness.
Doug and I have a vision for healing and restoring education; we’d love your help. Read some of my other blog posts or check out my website. Leave a comment that lets us know you’re interested in this kind of a relationship and we’ll be prompt to reply.
God bless America.