Friday, April 10, 2009

Presidential Soapbox

I don't get on too many soapboxes, but I've got to get this off my chest.

Here's the thing. I'm really, really tired of hearing kids say, "Obama." I'm really, really tired of hearing kids spit out the name "Obama" with a sneer of disgust on their little faces. I'm really, really tired of hearing 10-year-olds say things about how dumb "Obama" is and I'm tired of kids making Obama jokes and I'm tired of kids showing disgust for our president.

'Cause you know what, parents? It's President Obama, or Mr. Obama. You are teaching your kids that it's okay to disrespect someone if you don't like them. Wouldn't you be horrified if your kid referred to me as "Small" or to your preacher as "Smith"? I don't get it. Or what about that old man down the street who is grumpy to you and your kids, who has been hostile to you about homeschooling? Do you tell your kids it's OK to refer to him as Mills, instead of Mr. Mills, and that it's okay for them to spit his name out like a rotten peanut? Somehow, I don't think so.

Don't we teach this passage from Matthew 5:43-48 to our kids? Don't we sit down with them after they've had a little episode at church or playgroup with another kid or with their siblings and say to them, "Listen, honey, to what Jesus says!":
You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Once I was a den mother for my older son's Cub Scout pack. I'll never forget the chills I got when a little boy, maybe nine-years-old, opened with prayer: "Dear God, please help us to hunt down Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden and the other bad guys and kill them 'til they're dead."

Those were not happy chills. I caught his (devout Christian) mom smiling proudly, indulgently, when he finished praying. I have to wonder: what kinds of conversations go on at dinner tables in Christian households in our country? Why do parents express their disdain for our president in front of their children, who then parrot their parents' sentiments, often verbatim, inappropriately? Why do we allow our children to be disrespectful in regards to the president of our country, but slap their hands when they pick at their siblings?

I'm just asking. And let me tell you: it's true that little pitchers have big ears. Next time you are listening to the news and want to snap off the TV with disgust and mutter "Obama this and that" under your breath, be a grown up and practice what you preach.



  1. Totally agree that we need to talk civilly about everyone, regardless of what we think about them.

    I have to say, though, that at first I didn't get what you were saying, because I think the use of Mr/President is a completely separate issue from the whole "be careful what you say" issue. I mean, I mostly say good things about the guy but I often call him Obama without the honorific. Not because he doesn't deserve it, but out of habit from reading journalists refer to people by their last names. For many years he was legitimately referred to as "Obama" (in text, anyway), and it can take awhile to make that switch in your head from "Obama" to "President" or "Mr." So the honorific is certainly NICE to use, don't get me wrong--it's a good habit to be in, only that it's a separate issue not related to whether you are speaking in an appropriately respectful manner about the office. (After all, do you say "President" every time you refer to Lincoln or FDR or Jefferson? (Or for that matter, Reagan or Carter?) (Maybe you do and I am a bad American!!) So anyway, all I mean is, the honorific is nice, but I can live without it if the rest of the content of the sentence is framed civilly.

    I can't believe I am writing about this on a Friday night. Aack! Anyway, love to think about such things.....xoxox

  2. Ditto what Giddy said.

    It was never "President Bush" -- it's always "Bush". A lot of the issue comes, too, from the media. They are terrible about using just names. Unless they like the person.

    I am sorry that so many people are talking about the President in such hateful ways, we do need to pray for him and we need to honor his office. Even when he's not honoring to us.

  3. Oh gosh thank you! I cringed this past fall during election season every time I heard 9,10, and 11 year olds referring to Pres. Obama as the antichrist. Sadly this was from christian circles.

  4. I see what you're saying, G, but remember that I am in the south, where people pretty much always use some sort of title, whether it's Miss Sarah or Dr. Small or yes, sir. Calling someone by just his/her last name stands out in stark contrast, clearly offensive. You're right--if it is framed civilly, that puts a different spin on it. But I'm not talking about adults speaking civilly here; I'm talking about kids speaking disrespectfully because they are parroting their parents.

  5. I love what you said in this post.

  6. Wow! I have been so concerned about this very thing. I've heard startling remarks from the children of our homeschool friends, as well as from people at church.

    It started well before the election results were in, even, with well-meaning Christians bombarding email boxes with myths, and misinformation. At first, I assumed they would appreciate a link to the context, or even the truth on the topic for those more blatantly false emails, but I quickly learned that few were interested in the truth when it came to Mr. Obama. They were only interested in defeating him by hook or by crook. I think a defeat on that basis is hollow and we should choose real issues, not fake stories to defeat a politician we don't respect.

    I think our Christian ethic applies at all times, and to all situations. Maybe we could look at this as a four year-long opportunity to learn to apply that principle.

    Let us not forget that God still sits on His throne. Who knows what surprises we may encounter if we spend our time praying for God to lead our nation instead of plotting the demise of our leadership.

  7. Agree with your POV. I think that it's nearly impossible to "walk the line" (or the narrow road if you're into New Testament analogies) once you allow politics and the attendant polarization into any discussion. Sure, there's a time and a place but it's not public prayer, sermons from the pulpit or group gatherings of BHEA.

  8. I'm so behind on blogs. Just got all caught up on yours. :)

    Loved this post. So true. I feel uncomfortable if I DON'T use "President."

    But you, I'm going to call Small.


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