Start with the facts from last weekend. For the third year in a row, the Pez Candy Company held a free Easter egg hunt in Orange, Connecticut, its corporate headquarters. Many more people than expected showed up, perhaps because of the extraordinary attention the event got on social media.
The Pez organizers thoughtfully had the egg hunt staggered, with the youngest kids searching first at a designated time and then the next age group and so. With over 9,000 eggs scattered over three fields, this event should have been a wonderful success. It wasn’t. Parents (with kids in tow) stormed the fields “off-schedule;” chaos ensued. The event was cancelled and many kids left disappointed and crying and without eggs.
And, this wasn’t the only Easter egg hunt to go awry this past weekend.
We can complain about pushy and aggressive parents. We can complain about poor planning on the Pez Company’s part, underestimating the crowd and not having enough personnel on hand to handle the logistics. We can blame the kids, too eager to rush onto the fields to find cherished eggs. We can lament the absence of self-restraint among older kids who struggled just watching younger kids start ahead of them and scoop up the eggs.
Instead, I want to blame Trump and the media, at least in part, for what occurred. For months now, the media has been enabling Trump with all his bluster to grab the nation’s collective attention on national media. We see Trump (and other candidates to be sure) acting like badly behaved children: taunting, teasing, bullying, shouting, inciting violence, making sexist jokes and sexual innuendos, vilifying certain groups within society, bashing each other’s family members, lying and aggressively attacking each other verbally. And even when the lies are pointed out, the truth gets twisted yet again and even more attention is focused on Trump. We created our very own monster.
All the bad acts were all considered part of the political game, and few took Trump and his candidacy seriously. But, the more Trump and others continued their offensive behavior, the more attention they got from media outlets of all stripes. The Republican Senators got into the Trump spirit by exhibiting their collective unwillingness to even hold a hearing on the nomination of Judge Garland to the Supreme Court, despite Constitutional authority and plenty of precedent to the contrary. Our media explanation: politics at work.
Now that Trump as President is no joke, the media “mea culpas” have now come roaring in — but their words are too little, too late. The bad behavior is out of the proverbial bag so to speak.
The net result of all of this is that we are learning and have learned from watching. Even Trump’s newest outrageous comments about use of nuclear weapons and punishing women who have abortion haven’t derailed him. Imagine if other candidates spoke the same words he speaks. They’d be vilified.
So, we see our potential presidents role modeling the very behavior we used to try to curb in our children. Is it any wonder, then, that parents and kids step over the line and act like bullies and act selfish and act without adequate self-reflection at an Easter egg hunt? If you tease and incite and shout and take outrageous positions and foster violence on national television as a presidential candidate, why should we be shocked that parents mimic what they see before them day-in-and day out?
Yes, we can lament the outcome of our own making but we need to do more than that. We need to send out different messages and we need to act differently. We need to speak up and out. Time’s a wastin’.
And I can’t help but wonder, what next act that will showcase our failed behavior to each other. Sadly, Easter Egg Hunt cancelations are likely not the last bad acts we see.