Imagine your child going over to a friend’s house to play. Now imagine that the friend asks your child to play a game. Perhaps it is a fairly common game, like checkers or hide-and-seek, or maybe tag. But, when the game is explained, the directions are not the same as your child is used to following. They are different. What would your child do? Would they try it this new way? Would they share their way of playing? Would they explain why they don’t like it? Or, would they put their foot down and say that they won’t play under those rules? What if they did say that? What if they went further and said that because of these different rules of the game that they disagree with, they were also not going to allow their friends and family to play! Your child goes further to say that neither she, her family, nor her friends will play the game until this particular friend agrees to play by your child’s rules.
How would that make you feel? Would you be proud of your child for sticking up for what they believe in? Or, would you view them as rude? Would, perhaps, you see your child as a bully? I would be very embarrassed as a parent and embarrassed for my child. I would also see that behavior as bullying. I admit I could be wrong, but I think many people would view such behavior as bullying and may describe my child as a bully. Yet, this behavior has been exhibited by prominent people for over year now and no one that I have seen or spoken to has even acknowledged it.
Where is this behavior being exhibited? It is by government personnel banning non-essential travel of public employees to states or cities where they have a disagreement the over certain laws. Most recently, we have seen governors and mayors ban such travel to the states of North Carolina and Mississippi. Last year, this happened with Indianapolis. Now, I acknowledge that at the heart of the ban is difference of opinion over specific laws involving social issues. However, think back to the child-game analogy. These governmental leaders who are banning travel are behaving in the same manner as the child in the analogy – either play by my rules and change your laws to something we believe in, or I won’t come to your state! Oh, and by the way, I won’t let any of my employees come to your state! (Either play checkers the way I do, or I won’t come over to play with you anymore and I won’t let my friends come either!)
Sure, some will say that because this deals with a social issue of peoples’ rights, the bullying behavior of these governors and mayors can be overlooked. Some won’t even be able to see the behavior as bullying because they are so focused on the social issue. Let me be clear at this point, this post is not making an argument either for or against the states’ individual laws. That could be an entirely separate post. This particular post is simply trying to point out the bullying behavior of specific governors and mayors to issue ultimatums in the way I might expect a 4 year old to do. Yet, I think most 4 year olds would behave better.
Seriously? Is this what we have been reduced to as a country? Do we now impose the values, beliefs, and/or laws, of one state/city on another by bullying them with threats?
It seems to me that we should expect, no demand, that our governments behave the same way we would expect our children to behave – to sit down and play nicely, to learn about each other, share different viewpoints, or perhaps work on hybrid models that both think are good ideas. Or, they could even agree to disagree and respect the differences that allow states and cities, and their citizens, to exist together. I would say we should expect our governments to act like adults, yet it is the adults who have reduced themselves, and by default, their citizens, to bullying others. Can’t we expect more? Shouldn’t we expect more?
If you don’t agree, I guess neither my friends, my family, nor I will ever visit you. After all, I live in New York State and, apparently, we bully those who don’t play by our rules.
[Image credit: Steve Snodgrass, http://flic.kr/p/75EGzy]