Maybe It’s Time To Stick To The Basics

By: Ashley Babbitt

Don’t hit. Don’t push. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Pick up after yourself. Treat others the way you want to be treated. These are things that we are taught when we’re children; probably in kindergarten if not before. They’re the basics. I believe we had a big sign in the classroom over the chalkboard that had the “Golden Rule” written on it, that we recited as often as required so that we knew the deal. It’s not nice to push, hit, or bully.

When did it become acceptable, as adults, to break these rules? If we expect children to follow these basic guidelines, shouldn’t we be leading by example? Do these rules have an expiration date children are not made aware of?

“Don’t hit, hurt, or steal, Bobby ... unless you accept a position later on in life where your superiors tell you it’s okay. Be good and do good, Bobby, unless your paycheck is more important to you than your morals. Treat others how you’d like to be treated, Bobby, unless you’ll get further by treating others poorly.”

That’s not what your teachers taught you ... at least I hope that’s not what they taught you in kindergarten.

Sure, people break these rules. We’re all human after all. Murderers, rapists, robbers ... they obviously threw these rules out the window. There are others though - in positions of power - that violate these everyday. That’s okay? Or is it that these basic morals only apply when we’re in school, and then they become null and void once we’re in the “real world?” If someone can answer that for me, go right ahead.

In April of 2008, 18 people went into the Jefferson Memorial and danced silently to themselves to music in their headphones, all in an effort to “celebrate and honor the former President by ushering in his birthday with silent dance.” A Park Police Officer asked one of the women to stop dancing, and when she asked for a lawful reason, he failed to provide her with one, and proceeded to arrest her. The woman claims the officer ripped the earbuds out of her ear, shoved her into a pillar, and violently twisted her arm. She was arrested, detained for five hours, and cited with “interfering with agency function” among others. In 2011 a federal court upheld that “expressive dancing” at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. is prohibited.

In May of 2011, a group of activists went to the Memorial and in an act of civil disobedience began “dancing” around. Now I don’t know how you folks dance, but my dancing doesn’t violate any of the basic rules I learned in kindergarten. It doesn’t hurt anyone. In fact, it probably doesn’t even look like dancing (how can a court define that, anyway?) ... but I digress. These folks were all arrested by Park Police. One man was slammed to the ground and choked by an officer before being handcuffed. This abuse by the officers was legally documented on video and can be viewed online. The only people here violating the rules we were taught in school are the individuals wearing badges.

First of all, this regulation is in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make here.

To body slam and choke a peaceful individual - essentially the use of force and violence - is okay for some people to do? Don’t hit, don’t push, don’t hurt ... who are those rules for, then? Treat others as you want to be treated ... unless your occupation protects you from punishment when you violate the rights of a peaceful person?

Something else taught to young children is to respect authority, trust police officers. What about those children at the Jefferson Memorial that day, watching those officers who are supposed to be “stand-up,” honorable officials, as they slammed grown men to the marble floor for dancing around. The only deplorable thing those children may have seen there that day was bullying done by the folks they are told to respect; the people that are supposed to exist to protect them from harm.

Just days ago, a couple was detained outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Penn. for passing out fliers on a sidewalk. The pamphlets were given to those willing to accept them and - according to the woman detained - contained information about the Federal Reserve. This should be a non-issue because of the First Amendment, however, apparently it’s illegal without a permit. The two were cuffed and on their knees while at least eight Park Police Officers (nice use of taxpayer funds) stood around while two wrote up citations for the couple “in violation.” The officers refused to give the pamphlets back, claiming they were evidence.

To make this matter more interesting and applicable, a mother and son were in the large crowd that gathered to see what was happening. The mother then said to an officer, “What are you teaching the kids? I don’t understand this? Like today it’s him, tomorrow it’s us because we might say something you disagree with or what someone else says … this is what you’re teaching!?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all police officers use force and violence against those who have essentially done no wrong, but many throughout this nation do. I’m not trying to solely pinpoint police officers. Take a look at others in positions of power and authority all around you ... a real, hard look. Many of those doing the bullying that we teach is wrong are those our children are told to respect. What is this teaching the younger generations?

Children in elementary school are - or at least were - encouraged to wonder, question, look around. These ideals are just as important as the other basics taught. Don’t blindly trust or respect someone simply because they hold a position of power - because some of these people think the rules of “don’t hit, don’t push, don’t hurt” don’t apply to them and are themselves the bullies.

I started school when I was four. I learned in kindergarten it’s not polite to hurt other people, or to take their pencil case. Twenty years later I still understand that. Unfortunately, far too many who pursue occupations of power abandon these principles ... so where is that going to leave the rest of us?

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