It becomes part of our being, hugging us like skin. Not something that you can slip off at night and toss on the floor with the clothing of the day. No, attitude is much deeper and harder to change. Attitude begins to grow within us as babies when we are introduced to the world around us. We learn to love, we learn to hate, we learn to discern as bad and good. Yet somewhere along the journey of life, some of us may find ourselves consumed with the negative…like straining to see in the dark of the night…only making out the bad things around us.
Many times a parent declares, “I don’t like your attitude” or “you need to change your attitude” without understanding how difficult this process of change can be… We are asking one to quickly morph into another… or face our consequences. Yet we as parents have helped define their attitudes. Combine that with the world we currently live in…wow it is a ticking time bomb. Take a moment and consider that children are living in a very complex world today. You and I may have walked a mile to school (I confess I did not) but we never dealt with the intensity and gravity of cyber bullying. We may have had to eat what was on our plate or go hungry ( I hated roast beef) yet we never felt the aggression and severe emotional pressure many kids of today experience. Today for fun, our children occupy their time with a never-ending visual stimulation of violence through our media and high def gaming videos. They kill with a deft handling the game a skill once acquired by playing jacks or marbles. They watch live social media capturing death, destruction, mayhem and violence. Some kids have had siblings, friends, parents die on the streets. Today doomsday preppers are glamorized on tv as they are proudly hording guns and ammunition…life and death, killing and survival concepts discussed as matter of fact like cooking shows and recipes. It has become a harsh world. Attitudes become armor to protect from that which is so difficult to deal with in life. And we are partially responsible as parents. As adults we become blind to the attitudes we carry as we strive to make the dollar, pay the bills and seek our own escape from the craziness. But we all travel with deep feelings and beliefs that keep us separated from each other. And we teach our children to do the same. Attitudes, they are so hard to change…
So what happens to tomorrow if there is not a positive shift in attitude? What happens if the adults do not begin to see that their bigotry, intolerance and closed minds are imprinted upon their children? I do not want to go there. Attitude…while deeply ingrained does carry ability to change. We see an epiphany realized by the family who adamantly declares strong anti-gay attitudes…until a loved one comes out. We see the ability to empathize during a natural catastrophe…as strangers extend a hand or even risk their life for another. Why is it only then that we are willing to see beyond the dark…why is it only then that we feel we are all a part of a larger whole? Those beautiful moments when a connection of respect for life of another is made with no thought of what is to be gained in return- action without attitude.
I often wonder why we wait until desperate times to rise above our attitudes. Why do we join the cause only after we feel personally affected by the war. Cancer, poverty, unemployment, inequality, gun violence, bullying, racism, sexual abuse, domestic violence, addiction…on and on they march in front of us. Our attitudes block us from the fight unless life has chosen to throw us through the ropes. Only then do many of us awaken and see that the fight is worthy. We take up our sword and add cause to our existence. But I ask, why wait?