By Stephen Diener
Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get more 2020ish, this week happened.
A week that began with the inexplicable murder of George Floyd and ended with riots and looting throughout numerous major cities in America.
It has been a trying to time for the nation to say the least. And during trying times like these, we normally look to our leaders for some sense of calm and/or inspiration. Unfortunately though, there hasn’t been much of that to go around as of late on both sides of the aisle.
In the immediate days following the asphyxiation of George Floyd, President Trump condemned the act and ordered the FBI and DOJ to investigate the matter. His condemnation of the evil act was echoed by all; black or white, republican or democrat, it didn’t matter, we all agreed what we saw was horrific and should never happen.
In those first couple of days we saw President Trump. The man who was calling for justice and swift action against those involved.
But once the riots began, we got rally Trump.
And don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for rally Trump, sometimes it’s what the country needs to hear. A dose of brash hard truth. This though, is not, and has not been one of those times.
His tweets have been tone def at best and dangerously divisive at worst.
Tweets like the one where he mentioned what would happen if the rioters were to enter the White House gates. Where he explained in detail that they would have been met by “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” are not what we need right now.
Tweets where he ends with the line “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” are not what we need right now. Even though he explained himself hours later by saying he was referring to his fear of store owners who might end up shooting the looters, it’s still something that should not be said in that moment. It ended up becoming a giant fan to the flames.
Tweets where he blames liberal leadership for failed law enforcement policies or blames Antifa and other groups for the riots are not what we need right now. Are those statements based in truth, yes, I do think so. But again, that’s rally Trump telling a harsh truth.
Am I saying he should lie? No, of course not. Never.
But in this powder keg moment for our nation, we need a message of calm and reassurance. A message of unity and peace, not a message of blame game, political positioning, or “vicious dogs.”
Yes, those who are using this as an opportunity to create anarchy, those who care nothing of the message that the peaceful protestors are trying to get across should be sought after and punished for their crimes. But we can not lump everyone into that same category.
To compare this to a parenting situation, imagine if your children were arguing over a toy…we’ve all been there…and in that moment you decide to scream at them and threaten them with punishment. What would they do? Cry and scream most likely making the situation worse and tougher for you to control.
Now, if that tense parenting moment was met with a sense of calm and an attitude of diffusing the situation before it escalated any further, than you would probably have much better success.
My point, as parents we have an obligation and a profound duty to set the right examples for our children and teach them the right lessons. They look to us as their leaders.
It’s time for our leaders to have that same type of attitude and diffuse the situation instead of screaming threats.
Because if not, the new week will begin with more riots just as this last week ended.