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Are we teaching our kids that winning is all that matters?

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There was a time in our country when children were taught about fairness, and that integrity mattered.  I remember hearing phrases as a child such as, “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.”  This type of thinking led to growing up with a sense of ethics and ideals that were consistent whether they were to your benefit of not.  This was the type of thinking that had people admit when they made a mistake, and care about fixing it, even if it were only because it “was the right thing to do.”  Children were taught about right and wrong, and how we are a society that values thought and innovation.  The goals were about finding the best way forward, regardless of who came up with the idea. 

School children learned in elementary school about the mistakes made by our country and how we’ve evolved as people over the years.  We were taught about some of the truly awful things our society embraced at different times of our development.  Everything from slavery to taking the land of the Native Americans was discussed in an effort to let school children know how much we’ve evolved since those earlier days of our republic.  We learned about the internment of Japanese Americans during the second world war and the McCarthy era where people were branded as communists and blacklisted.   We were also told that these behaviors were in America’s past and that we as a people had evolved from those times.  We were now a more enlightened society and no longer tolerated these horrendous behaviors.

However, these days it sometimes seems we haven’t really evolved all that much from the lessons of the past.  Recently in our society it seems less important who has the best idea, and more important who had the idea and whether or not they were “on our side.”  We’re less and less a society of people who respect differences of opinions.  Now, when we disagree with someone, it’s not just their ideas we disagree with, it’s their very character that we question and often vilify.   

This may seem a harsh view of our society, but this view of reality plays itself out every day.  If people think differently than we do, we often think it’s not only their ideas that are suspect, it’s the people themselves.  Now when someone has a different point of view, it’s not enough to disagree with them, often you have to vilify their very existence.  Someone who has a different perspective is not just wrong about their beliefs; they are often a bad person.  Even un-American. 

Our society was founded on the belief that there would be many points of views and many ideas.




-David Schwartz LMFT, Psychology Today

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