Hey everyone, it’s Monday January 11th 2021. That’s right, it’s 2021. It’s New Year’s Commitment Month! The future is upon us. Or is it that we are the future. Do you believe the children are the future? I’m sure you do. Speaking of the future here are a couple of dates to hold in your head for the future. Speaking of the future, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we’re having Star Wars Lunch. Every Monday during lunch.
The Sports are coming; the sports are coming. Here are the dates. ATHLETICS TO RESUME – but you have to have your paperwork in. So, talk to your families.
These dates my change but for right now...
FEBRUARY 1ST – MARCH 27TH
Boys and Girls Basketball
Boys and Girls Soccer
APRIL 1ST – MAY 22ND
MAY 3RD – JUNE 12TH
We were going to take this talk of sports directly into our talk of equity and equality because sports can be a big part of student life all throughout school. Many students participate in sports. But you can’t really talk about sports and students without learning that up until 1972 schools did not have to provide equal or fair opportunities for girls to participate in sports and that’s crazy recent. For perspective, Mr. Manzo was born in 1974 so that would mean his mom and his 4th grade teacher both avid fans of this podcast – (shout out to the not Derrick Evans people in West Virginia) completed all their formal schooling without being allowed or funded to participate in the many sports that are around today.
But we can’t talk about Title 9 today. We will next week, but today we have to pause to talk about bullying and bully behavior. And we need to talk about it in relation to equity and equality? Why do we need to do this? Because once again we have born witness to adult bully behavior, and if we don’t address it, we might repeat it ourselves. And we are better than that.
So, we will talk Title 9 next week and today we will talk about bully behavior. And just a warning, what we are about to discuss may produce emotion information. Bullying is defined by three characteristics. First, it is attention that is unwanted. Second, there is a power imbalance. Third, it is ongoing. When these things happen in a school there are supposed to be consequence and schools work hard to stop this behavior and provide better choices for kids. Although, it is not a perfect system and bullying still happens there are efforts to stop it and teach better.
When these things happen in the adult world, sometimes there is mediation and sometimes people take responsibility, but often there are excuses made or what is sometimes called, rationalization. That is, when adults are using bully behavior, you can almost always find bystanders who try to explain away the bully behavior as valid or rational or even necessary. And that’s what we are talking about. The bully behavior, and the excuses that allow the behavior to continue. Or worse, encourage the behavior to increase.
Last week we saw some pretty strong examples of adult bully behavior coming from Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruz. There were more people, but we will focus on them. All four of these people present in the world as male, and all present in world with light skin. And all four of these people held a huge amount of power in our nation. All 4 of these men chose to give unwanted attention to things that hurt. And all 4 of these men have done so for a while now. And as of the recording of this podcast, they continue to hold all that same power. And this is going to matter a great deal, as you will see.
So, what happened? Well briefly here’s the deal. On November 4th the United States held the most secure election in our nation’s history. Far more secure than the election in 2016 in which President Trump lost the popular vote but won the presidency anyway because of the disproportionate power wielded by less populous white rural areas, protected by an electoral college system that was almost disposed in 1970 had it not been for notable American racist Strom Thurmond.
Back to the present. Setting a new record, during this election on November 4th President Trump received 74,223,744 votes, which is a lot of votes. In fact, it is the second most votes a person has ever received for president. The record for first most votes ever received for a person for president belong to Joe Biden in this same election. That number is 81,283,485. It’s about 7 million more votes. There was no cheating, there was no fraud, the election was not rigged. It was free and fair and Trump did very well, even increasing his vote total from 2016, and remember, he lost the popular vote back then also. Trump and his supporters had every reason to feel both proud and sad. Proud that they ran a good campaign, sad that it just wasn’t enough. That should have been the end of the story as it is in our nation's history, dating back to second President John Adams, that power peacefully transfers from one administration to the next. Something unheard of in countries ruled by tyrants.
Tragically, upon learning that he simply did not get as many votes as Joe Biden, Donald Trump was unable to manage his uncomfortable emotion information in the ways we are learning, and chose, instead to throw a very public tantrum, and cry, and fuss and make up a ton of lies. Why did he do this? Because he never learned to manage his emotion information in healthy ways. Through his lies and tantrum many people joined him. Why? Because it’s easier to cry and fuss and yell foul then it is to manage uncomfortable feelings. It’s easier to just say you got cheated and get angry than it is to say, you lost and are hurt.
No one likes to lose. Not sports, not friends, definitely not as Mr. Manzo would say, “kissing relationships”, not arguments, and not elections. It sucks. There’s no other way about it. But part of what makes someone a good leader, is the ability to lead their people even through loss. When Hilary Clinton got more votes than Donald Trump in 2016 and still loss the presidency, she told her supporters to support Donald Trump. John McCain did the same, very eloquently, when John McCain lost to Barack Obama. So did Mitt Romney, so did Al Gore when he lost to George Bush. In fact, again, going back to John Adams everyone has done that except Donald Trump.
Flynn: One very important characteristic of bad leadership is if the leader needs the followers to help them feel good. That’s backwards. Leaders comfort followers, not the other way around. Donald Trump was not capable of leading in this way. He needs his followers to make himself feel good. So instead of modeling for his followers what grace and dignity and strength are, he chose pettiness, and whining, and name calling. He also chose to lie. He made up many, many lies and he told these lies all the time. And so did his friend and co-bully Rudy Guiliani.
They made up lies that there was fraud. They made up lies that things weren’t fair and they worked harder then they seemed to work to help people with Corona-virus, to try to take away legally cast votes, from mostly black and brown people. And sadly, but not unexpectedly, they’re followers followed. They bought the lie, they echoed the lie, they added new lies. The lies continued to grow and they continued to be spread by other people with power. Sadly, for us, there are too many bullies to name them all so we will sum them up through the actions of two other co-liars. A man name Josh Hawley and man named Ted Cruz. They worked very hard to further the lies by pretending to take them seriously. By instead of telling people the truth, that Donald Trump simply did not get as many votes, they pretended the lies were real. They put their power as United States Senators behind the lies. Why did they do this? We will likely never know for sure but we can guess. Why does a kid instigate a fight at school? Because they like something about it. They want to be friends with stronger kids. They want protection. They like to be entertained by watching people hurt each other, or they like the power they feel at having helped make it happen. Or just for kicks. Whatever the reason, those behaviors, at least in our schools, have consequences.
Donald Trump refers to his supporters as special people. He tells them they are special. So, Donald Trump and Rudy Guiliani and Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz took the emotion information Trump’s special American supporters felt from losing an election and they manipulated it. They turned it into fear. Fear that they had been robbed. Fear that they, the special Americans, were losing their America. And just like Joe Talbot from the band Idles sings so perfectly, that fear lead to panic, panic lead to pain, pain lead to anger, anger lead to hate.
On December 19th Donald Trump told his special Americans to come to the nation's capital on January 6th for a “wild protest”. Why that date? Because that is the date the united states congress would certify the election results that said what every county, state, and court had already said, “Donald Trump simply did not get enough votes to be president”. That’s the date that Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and many others were planning to further the lies. They were wanting to be seen and heard protecting the lies and thereby protecting Trump’s special Americans whom they want to be liked by. And both Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz chose this path rather than the path of protecting the majority of Americans who voted for Joe Biden and rather than protecting the constitution of America and the principals of democracy. Donald Trump reminded his special Americans again the day after Christmas to show up in DC on January 6. And they came. A huge number of the special Americans, full of the fear and panic and pain and anger and hate. They came to follow their king’s orders. And their king’s name was emblazoned on their banners.
As they gathered outside of the White House, they heard many speeches encouraging them to never give in, continue to fight, be strong. Rudy Giuliani suggested that rather then follow the lawful authority which in this case is the American voters, they should figure out who is in charge through a Trial by Combat. The president’s son threatened members of congress that if they didn’t break the law, and instead chose to follow the lawful authority of the American voters, his family and all the special Americans would show up to their backyards. He told them, “The whole world is watching. Choose wisely.” and for the record, if you try to intimidate people in our school like this, you’re getting suspended.
But then Donald Trump took the stage and he told his highly energetic crowd to never follow the lawful authority of the will of the voters. To be strong. To march down the street to congress. He even said, he’d be march with them. So off they went. And everything you might have seen on TV happened when they went. And he didn’t go with them. He watched them on TV. And he didn’t call the National Guard to help stop what was happening.
Now here’s one last thing you need to know. The word sedition means, the incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority. So when you hear people say that what happened last week was sedition that’s because what happened last week is what defines the word sedition. Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and sadly again, many others, all chose to participate in inciting the resistance to lawful authority.
But here is where equity and equality comes in. What will happen to these men? Who knows? That’ll be up to the adults to decide. But let’s think about it as if it were in our school. Let’s say we held an ASB election. Let’s say you got more votes than me. Let’s say I didn’t like the emotion information I experienced when I lost. Let’s say I made up lies. I told the people who voted for me that the election was rigged and really I won, but I got cheated so they got cheated. Let’s say my friends carried my lies and added their own. Let’s say for two months we yelled our lies all around the school. Let’s say we tried to get people to experience, fear, panic, pain, anger, hate. Let’s say on the day of the official counting by teachers me and many of the people who voted for me gathered on the field. Let’s say me and my best friends reminded everyone how we’d been robbed. Let’s say my cousin threatened the teachers that if they didn’t cheat for me, we’d all go to their houses. Lets’ say we got our energy up and stormed down to the library in exuberant rage. Let’s say some of us had guns. Let’s say that there was almost no security around. Why? Let’s just say that me and almost all my supporters are white. Let’s say one of the security guards who was there, not only let us in but took a selfie with some of us. Let’s say we rushed into the library. Let’s say teachers had to hide under tables or run out another door and hide in the basement. Let’s say we took down the American flag and replaced it with a flag with my name on it. Let’s say we jumped on the tables, took selfies of us standing on the book shelves and peed on the carpet. Let’s say after a while we just all left, again, security didn’t stop us. Let’s say that 5 people died during our actions. Now let’s say it’s 6 days later and we’re all just back in class. I’m still saying that I got robbed, but I’m saying it in a calmer way. You tell me, is that fair?
Let’s take it back to something many of us know better. The movement for black lives and equity. Many of us participate in this ongoing work. Many of us marched this past year. Many of us saw the marches on TV. We saw peaceful people being met with tremendous displays of force from law enforcement. We saw tanks, flash bang grenades, tear gas, automatic weapons, shields, and batons. We saw people arrested by secretive police and put in vans and we saw all this in response to people striving for themselves and others to be treated fairly. We even saw police shoot tear gas at peaceful men and women to clear the same streets that were stomped on last week, so that the president, the president's family, the attorney general, and an actual general, could walk to a church so the president could get his picture taken with a bible. That’s what we saw. We heard protestors for black lives and equity give speeches about community trauma, of struggle, years of oppression, of survival, of spirit, of change and hope and love and pride. We heard these people referred to as looters and thugs no matter what level of piece and restraint they showed. We heard people speak of our nations legacy of racism and we heard them speak of ways they think we can make a change. Whether people agree with those suggestions or not, we heard actual suggestions. Plans. Policies. That’s what we heard. That’s what we experienced with that social engagement.
In 1840 a French sociologist named Alexis de Tocqueville traveled to America to study it. Of the many things he wrote was this statement, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”
Well, what will it be? Do you see some faults in need of repair? If so, great, that’s how our nation grows. That’s how our nation heals. We work to fix our faults. We try to be better than we were before. As tough as this may seem it starts very simply. It starts with the things we know. The way we treat our friends, the way they treat us. We practice these skills in school. Each time we reflect on our writing or edit our thinking or fix a quiz. It’s the process of not repeating our mistakes, of learning, of growing. That’s what we do in our most local level and that gives us the ability to do it on a national level.
The truth is, the lasting legacy of Donald Trump can be most easily seen in the actions of last week. And that legacy is the permission to be your worst self. Every kid and according to Mr. Manzo every teacher and he says definitely every parent knows, it can be hard to use self-management. It’s way easier to just act however you want whenever you want wherever you are. It can often take more energy to choose to be kind and considerate and thoughtful.
It is hard to sit with uncomfortable emotion information. When expressing yourself through grace and dignity it may take longer to release some of the energy of heartache and loss then it does from yelling and whining and name calling. Choosing to use self-awareness and social awareness can be challenging without practice. Donald Trump’s legacy is not strength or courage it’s not even power, it’s laziness. It’s the efficiency of being your worst self.
If people lack the skill for choosing to use more energy to manage uncomfortable emotion information, and if people have leaders who do not promote the learning and use of skills to recognize and understand emotion information, or they don’t know what to do with what they’re feeling, then this cycle we witnessed these last few months which came to a fiery point last Tuesday, will repeat. Same dookie, new flies.
This last bit is for the adults who might be listening. Remember, as the great Stephen Sondheim wrote, “Careful the things you say, children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see and learn. Children will look to you for which way to turn.” So, what will we learn from all of this?
Until next week, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.