Watching 40 thousand boys being coaxed into booing the first African American President and the first woman presidential candidate of the United States, my heart skipped a beat. Then they applauded when the news media were referred to as fake news. They laughed at a bullying threat disguised as a joke against the Health and Human Services Secretary if Obamacare didn’t get repealed. I was surprised by the fear that came over me. I am not so fearful for Tom Price getting fired, now that the repeal bill didn't pass in the Senate. I am fearful for my beloved country.
This scene reminded me of the Cultural Revolution in China which was launched in 1966, in which thousands of youth bought into Mao Zedong’s appeal to eliminate his rivals. They formed the Red Guards and persecuted millions of people. You might say that this can’t happen in the United States. But I say, it can if we don’t pay attention to these kinds of propaganda targeted at our youth. I call it propaganda because when a powerful person, who already won, continues to be in “campaign mode” claiming to be a victim, his real goal is to indoctrinate people into fortifying his power by eliminating the opposing parties.
I call upon all U.S. Citizens who work with youth in this country – Boy Scout leaders, Girl Scout leaders, School Teachers, Sunday School Teachers – to focus on what really matters. Pay attention to what our youth are learning from the powerful people in our country. Are they learning that it is okay to bully a friend while claiming loyalty is important? Are they learning that putting down anyone who disagrees with them is good? Are they learning that the news media is not to be trusted? If they belief that our news organizations provide fake news, what are the alternative places where they find the truth? And without the truth, our youth will be vulnerable to manipulations of propaganda, which we learned from history, never tells the truth.
I call upon the good people of all political parties to invest in teaching our youth about what it means to be good citizens in a democracy. Instead of raising campaign money to help you win the next election, raise money and invest in providing “good citizen” curricula in local schools, faith communities and youth organizations.
Start with the 16 and 17-year-old youth and prepare them to embrace the privilege to vote responsibly based on values that they believe and live in and not on propaganda. Show them Senator John McCain’s speech in the Senate this week where he said,
Our system doesn't depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections, and gives an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth. It is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than 'winning.' Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to 'triumph.'
Take a lesson from the Boy Scouts of America: A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Eric H. F. Law
The Kaleidoscope Institute
For competent leadership in a diverse changing world