My daughter came home from school recently, anxious about a girl who was ostracized by her entire class for having said the wrong thing to a classmate. She didn’t tell me what had been said, but for my highly dramatic daughter to have sensed such injustice, what the girl said couldn’t have been that bad.
I chatted with my daughter and explained how damaging this behavior is, especially if it’s allowed to continue. I asked her to talk with the girl in question the next day and listen to her story and why she might have said what she said, and to at least give her the opportunity to apologize.
It made me think of what we so often hear in the news today, of people being shunned left, right and center, for various reasons — some more egregious than others. And the effect this is having on us adults, and on the younger generations.
In fact, today we hear familiar faces have been “canceled,” with no chance of redemption. Not so “woke” ago, they’d have been called persona non grata. They would have disappeared from the news and and we’d only hear about them again if they managed to turn their lives around. I’m not so sure this would be possible today.
Now, many of us sit at home on our screens and play the role of judge and executioner. We hear certain sides of a conversation (certainly not the whole conversation), determine a person’s guilt, and then not only make our judgment, but share it with individuals that we sometimes don’t even know. Then we hang the person out to dry. We’ve become a virtual mob, denying the accused a voice.
The detrimental effects on children
Sadly, as with my daughter’s story, this notion of canceling is being filtered down to our kids. And this may be the biggest danger of the cancel culture. On the playground, children can already be vicious enough, but now if a child makes one mistake they can be cast aside without a friend in sight. This can leave them confused, depressed, and even suicidal.
It’s so important for children to realize that they can make mistakes and feel supported in trying to right their wrongs. When they are “canceled” they can lose their sense of worth. This is a fierce form of bullying.
So I’m trying to impress upon my children to not make rash judgments, to look for the good in a person, and to forgive when they’ve been harmed. Yes, it would sometimes be easier to walk away and “cancel” that person from your life, but then where is the room for growth and mercy?
While I have formed some opinions of various “cancelings” in the news myself, I’m trying to keep them to myself, and practice what I preach. And I’m fortunate because I can point to our faith to find perfect examples for my children to imitate when it comes to embracing those who’ve wronged us.
After all, the Bible is full of stories of sinners who repented, and a loving Father who forgave. Wouldn’t it read so very differently if Jesus and His Apostles had gone around canceling all those who wronged them?