Last week, I implored you to investigate information before you circulated it as truth because of the proliferation of lies that permeate our society through social media. Today, I want us to be nicer to each other, because I find the level of plain old downright meanness that has insidiously snaked its way into our day-to-day lives beyond disturbing. This kind of meanness was on display this past week when Sen. John N. Kennedy from Louisiana said of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, “It must suck to be so dumb!” He prefaced that statement by saying that he meant no disrespect.

He is a duly elected Senator, one of only 100, and that in itself puts a mantle of respectability on his shoulders. Call me silly, but I think he should, therefore, act respectably. 

I understand that not everyone likes Nancy Pelosi or thinks that she is the right person to be Speaker of the House of Representatives. Fine. Nothing says people have to like her. But to make such a harsh statement and then pretend that it is not disrespectful strains credulity. Of course it is disrespectful for an elected official, a public figure, to cast such aspersions. Worse, the audience for his invective thought what he said was hilarious and just fine. Then later, he was asked about his statement and defended it, saying that it certainly was not disrespectful. 

I disagree. When Emily was running for class president, I would have grounded her if she had made such a statement about an opponent. She would have immediately apologized, and I would have taken her name off the ballot, because those kinds of words are not the words of a leader. I have a feeling that most parents would take the same path, including the parents in Sen. Kennedy’s audience who hooted and hollered their acceptance and approval of the slur. At least I hope they would take the same path. 

I think Sen. Kennedy – and the folks who encouraged such incivility – should take a lesson from Brendan Eisenmenger. On Thursday, at Brendan’s memorial service, he was eulogized by his co-workers as a man who wanted the best for everyone. His motto revolved around the three “Ps.” According to Brendan, one could accomplish just about everything by being Professional, Positive, and Polite. And he did just that.

He accomplished what he set out to do in our school district by utilizing those three qualities, and people noticed, which was evidenced by the packed auditorium on Thursday. Brendan recognized that the three “Ps” are not necessarily characteristics to which one is born such as having the natural ability to play the piano or sing well. The three “Ps” are human characteristics that every one of us can develop and use for good, as he did.

Brendan affected the lives of hundreds of families during his short tenure as a teacher and then as an administrator, and he did it by finding the good in those around him and encouraging them to do their best. Those families, from all walks of life, came together on Thursday to pay tribute to the man who was kind – and who was, at all times in his career, positive, professional, and polite. 

Notice that “perfect” is not one of the “Ps” Brendan espoused. Obviously, no one is perfect. But developing the other three “P” attributes can go a long way toward creating a more perfect atmosphere of respect and civility, which our society obviously needs right now.

That Brendan’s life came to an end at such a young age and at the dawn of what was a promising outstanding career as an educator is a heartbreaking tragedy. But we all, including Sen. Kennedy, whose words wield a great deal of power, could perpetuate the good that Brendan accomplished by believing in and putting into practice those three “Ps.” 

I encourage you to remember Brendan by treating each other, even those with whom you disagree, with professionalism, positive energy, and politeness. As Brendan did, you will be making the world a better place.

 

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