“The degradation to which you subject others comes back, sooner or later, to haunt you…” This quote from Ken Follett’s powerful novel, Fall of Giants (2010), captures a unique truth about the malicious mistreatment of others.
We witness degradation, in its many manifestations, in school hallways, in workplaces, within families, in the political arena, and even in the dealings of nations.
The video titled “Always #LikeAGirl” (shared with me by one of my sons-in-law) underscores how culture powerfully shapes our thinking in degrading ways.
I heard Rosalind Wiseman give a keynote recently in which she discussed the need for adults to purposefully interdict deeply engrained and socially accepted norms of degrading behavior. She described our role as that of “piercing the normalcy of degradation.” What an enthralling phrase!
In the song “Belfast to Boston” James Taylor highlights the fact that reversing the forces of degradation requires extraordinary acts. From his lyrics:
“Who will bend this ancient hatred?
Will the killing to an end?
Who will swallow long injustice, take the devil for a countryman?
Who will say, this far, no further?”
As we struggle to teach young people right ways of thinking and right ways of behaving, countering the influence of contemporary culture and deep-seated historical threads of degradation are daunting challenges.
I believe it can be done, should be done, must be done. For the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and their grandchildren.