The 2016 presidential election was America’s first test run of the effects of safe-space parenting.
Its results were disheartening at best.
The scene outside the Javits Center in New York City could have been taken straight out of “The Walking Dead.” As I walked past a cordoned-off portion of the street around the time it became clear the glass ceiling would remain intact, I was forced to step over a disoriented, sobbing woman splayed out on the ground while being interviewed. Her appearance was not dissimilar to Rick Grimes in episode one, season one of the apocalyptic zombie show.
We were not at war, there was no terror attack and zombies had not taken over the city — but her behavior would have fit any of those scenarios.
What she said was the only indication of what had truly happened: “His … his words just really hurt me.”
That sentence has stayed with me these past 118 days. She was rendered immobile by the actions of a man she had never met or interacted with. His words elicited the same reaction in her that people who have gone through real trauma exhibit.
But she had experienced no such trauma. The scary part is that in her mind, his “words” were no different than literal harm. That’s because she is the product of a sheltered, sterilized, ignorant upbringing that promotes avoidance of difficult situations over teaching someone how to deal with them.
The product of safe space parenting is a spineless inability to handle even the most minute negative situation. Emotional growth is stunted at the five-year-old level.
I’m only writing about this now because I assumed almost four months after President Donald Trump won the election, people would be back to normal.
My assumption was wrong.
Trump’s campaign and presidency have elicited lunacy beyond reasoning: couples are separating, people are suicidal, depressed and turning to prescription drugs to cope, and others actually believe Trump is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.
“I was incensed. I said, ‘I can’t believe that somebody I could be married to could vote for someone whose track record is so obviously poor,'” Gayle McCormick said of Bill, her husband of 22 years. She later moved out and they separated. Bill didn’t even end up voting for Trump.
“The additional medications prescribed, extra ER visits, delayed procedures, missed work, plus the fallout from other illnesses being relegated to the back burner, and you have the makings of a major medical toll from this election,” Danielle Ofri wrote for Slate on Jan. 19.
“If it talks like a Hitler and walked like a Hitler …” is the headline of a Miami Herald column from June 17.
Trigger warnings on college campuses and in the workplace are quickly becoming the norm. Free speech is being attacked since words are apparently the same thing as assault. It’s OK to attack Trump supporters (or people they think are Trump supporters). In 2017, words are considered violence, and violence is acceptable expression.
The idea to give kids participation trophies was like giving a gremlin water– it has morphed into a horrible monster we can’t control.
These same individuals who sit in the street and weep will some day be representatives, senators and governors. How will they be able to handle the demands of adulthood when they can’t even handle a presidential election? How can they be trusted to put emotions aside and make rational choices that impact over 300 million Americans when it comes to legislation? How can they decide clearly whether or not to send our men to war?
Loss, disappointment and failure are part of the human experience. Those moments — more so than triumphs — thicken our skin, strengthen our resolve and teach us how to pick ourselves back up and keep going.
If a person is never allowed to fail, they have no way of coping when it happens. It’s the same problem that occurs when parents sterilize everything because they don’t want their kid to get sick. An immune system that has never had to fight off a cold is ill-equipped to mount a defense once that child inevitably becomes ill.
A great disservice is being done to America’s youth. Human nature demands winners and losers, and no amount of sheltering will ever save someone from experiencing disappointment in some form. Good intentions are yielding disastrous results.
The woman in the street faces the reality of Trump for a minimum of four years. So do the other 65,844,609 that voted for Hillary Clinton. Let’s hope for the sake of our country that the next 44 months teach my generation a thing or two.