I have come to the conclusion that our country is filled with road rage. The anger and frustration displayed in cars has come out from behind the wheel into the streets, schools, and other public spaces. I began to notice it systemically when COVID reared its ugly head almost three long years ago. Those would be dog years, so more like 21 human years ago. Little by little I began to see that civility was no longer leading the way and that rage was running a tight race for first place instead of thoughtful discussion.
You can blame social media, a political party that went awry, addiction to screen time, call it what you will, but to me, it feels like road rage has replaced what used to be considered the golden rule, treat others as you wish to be treated. Well, I certainly don’t treat others with my rage and fury. As often as I have heard degrading and demoralizing comments, I refuse to be silent about civility prevailing. I aim to be the solid object in the room when chaos reigns.
School nursing during COVID has been the most difficult time during the 38 years I have been a nurse. The anger and aggression in the community comes into school and our children are watching how adults are interacting. It’s almost as if road rage has left the car, left behind the steering wheel and has shown up in our schools, our school board meetings, and community gatherings. There is a level of community disrespect that feels very troubling and our children are listening and learning from the adults in their lives.
One of the most compelling COVID stories shared with me, the worst kind of exemplar for road rage leaving the car, is the school nurse who shared that when she called a parent to pick up their symptomatic child they said this:
Are you ready to meet your Judgement Day, because I am coming for you. – an irate parent to a school nurse
The nurse did the right thing, she called the police and filed a complaint. I don’t know the end result, but the mere fact that she was spoken to in this manner still shakes me when I think about it, imagine how she feels now, even months later.
We have ruptured relationships in our country. What can we do to repair these ruptures? If we have dysregulated parents, dysregulated teachers and dysregulated school nurses we cannot help our children. Our focus is for our children to flourish, not only survive.
The other day I saw a signature line from one of my colleagues that works for Acelero Learning. In her signature she shared this vision of her organization:
Our VisionWe envision a world where children become champions of their own making; where historical biases and systemic inequities no longer stand in the way of their infinite promise. – Acelero Learning
I would like to imagine a world where this vision was at the center of all policy whether it was related to health, learning or safety. We may have lost our way for a time. But we can regain our balance and set new priorities. When we focus on our future, what is best for our children and young people, how can we not do whatever is in our power to end the rampant road rage, repair the ruptured relationships and bring civility back to public discourse.