Dads Don’t Hit!
Happy Father’s Day! My dad never hit me though hitting wouldn’t be uncommon for his generation. It is difficult for me even to remember a time when he was upset at me or said something verbally to cause me distress. I realize not everyone’s dad can be like mine. Nor can everyone be a parent like mine was.
The idea is simple. There will be times when we are displeased with our children, partners, spouses, or others. At no time is abuse, physical or verbal, acceptable. It is easy to preach and difficult to practice. We must try nonetheless.
There is research on corporal punishment, almost all of it showing it is detrimental. Though banned at most schools in most countries, corporal punishment of children is still common. A Brookings Institution Report says some 80% of American parents support it. Some even believe that the ability to punish in that way is a sign of strength. On the contrary. It is a weakness. Hitting a human being or an animal only shows that at some level one is unable or unwilling to control their emotions.
When a society and its citizens, individually and collectively, accept abuse of animals or people as a regular part of normal functioning, good norms break down. What begins with accepting hitting leads to accepting much cruder versions. Bullying, kicking, and then slamming all become acceptable. Before long, even killing the unarmed is rationalized.
The education that is important to avoid abuse starts with the basics, and it starts at a young age. It is difficult for a child to comprehend the importance of not abusing or not hitting, if the adult role models they have around them do not follow what they teach them. Hollywood actor Will Smith striking Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscar Award ceremony was shocking, both because it happened at a public stage and because of the person Will Smith had lived up to be at least until then. No reasoning can justify his actions. He has apologized and has faced some consequences, as he must. It is a teachable moment: That loss of control and temper at best shows one in poor light and at worst leads to a tragedy. What we witnessed was not strength.
A strong person is not one who can show their strength only physically or through the power of their weapons. They have power over their own minds, and their strength needs no showing. They can almost always find a peaceful way to deescalate a situation. The weak do the opposite. Where was the strength in the officer who kneeled on and killed unarmed George Floyd two years ago? Where is the progress on police reform since? Where is the strength in chasing and killing an unarmed motorist who was running away, as has happened many times, and recently to Patrick Lyoya in Michigan? What crime deserves immediate death with no questions asked? What we see here is all weakness.
No laws can help unless individually and as a society we come to certain common, simple principles, such as this one: Dads don’t hit! Then it follows that their children won’t hit. The cycle must begin somewhere, and it could just as well begin with all of us here and now.
Here is a bit of American history from last Father’s Day edition. Enjoy the day!
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