Over the last few days there has been a lot of discussion regarding a group of teenage girls who posted a video on YouTube of the beating of another girl. "Should the parents be held responsible?" "What is happening in our society that kids think this is an appropriate way to solve differences?" "Where they just trying to be 'famous' for their 15 minutes?" "What do we need to do as a society to address this behavior?"
It seems clear to me that the answer begins at the top. We have a president whose first answer to any problem is violence. When he felt that Iraq was a threat or not responding appropriately to international demands, a preemptive strike and a prolonged military occupation was the solution. When he talks about Iran, threats of attack are the norm. When the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians is raised, diplomacy is ruled out with important groups virtually insuring that the violence will continue.
And it doesn't stop with the current president. When John McCain speaks about the situation in Iraq/Iran, he shows a profound misunderstanding of the differences or relationships between the various factions and seems to have little interest in learning those differences. Instead, his default position is to joke, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" and to assure us that "we will have more wars."
When the default answer for the leaders of our country is to resort to violence, how can we expect anything different from our children? Wouldn't it be wonderful if the default reaction was to have a diplomatic surge rather than a military one? Wouldn't it be wonderful if the first reaction to an enemy was to work to make friends or at least to find areas of common interest rather than saber rattling? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could point to our leaders and say to our children, "look how they solve conflict and follow in their example"?