anne mikolay 2012 120It happens every September: a child was left unnoticed on an empty school bus. I do not understand that! Five year old Prince Oquendo of Pennsylvania missed his first day of kindergarten because he was locked inside a school bus for nearly four hours. Apparently, the driver was unaware the child had not disembarked at Monacacy Elementary Center in Berks County. He didn’t notice because he didn’t check to confirm the bus was empty! What is wrong with people? If you work with children in any capacity, whether you are the teacher or the aide, the volunteer, the bus driver, or the person dishing out tater tots in the cafeteria, you are responsible for each child’s welfare. Ask yourself: are all the children lined up? Count heads! Are they all off the bus? Check the seats. Look under the seats. Check everywhere. It’s your job. No child should be left in a hot, locked school bus because the driver was too hasty or too lazy to complete his task. I worked with children; I know what I’m talking about. Children are precious and must be protected. There’s no excuse for leaving a child unattended on a locked school bus. None.

And there’s no excuse for insensitivity. In late August, San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick stirred ongoing controversy when he refused to stand during the National Anthem, stating that he was not “going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” In a show of solidarity, US soccer international and Seattle Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem before her team faced the Chicago Red Stars, professing her belief that the American flag does not protect all her liberties as a gay American. Both these individuals exercised their First Amendment rights to free speech, and while I see their points and concede that America has a long way to go to accomplish inclusion, I detect insensitivity and short-sightedness in the athletes’ actions. Did they not think about members of the military, past and present, who risked life and limb to protect democracy? Did they not anticipate how offensive their rejection of the American flag would be? Did they forget they live in the United States and daily take advantage of all that implies? By all means, if they perceive transgressions in our country, they should take a stand, but they should not disrespect the very country that makes their freedom of speech possible.

While campaigning on Labor Day in Cleveland, Ohio, Hillary Clinton had a coughing fit at the podium, reached for a glass of water, and discreetly spit something into the glass, reigniting speculation about her health. Give me...or Hillary...a break! The woman coughed and inconspicuously spit phlegm into a glass. Whippee. Would her critics have preferred she spit on the ground instead? Never fear; Republicans are not exempt from scrutiny. Marco Gutierrez of Latinos for Trump recently warned MSNBC that there would be “taco trucks on every corner” if illegal immigration is not stopped, and the internet lit up with election day “Taco Tuesday” jokes at the Republican candidate’s expense. Though the taco truck comment sounds like a “Trumpism”, Donald Trump did not say it. If the political arena has become so petty and nitpicky that talking heads are harping on the inane, we’re in worse trouble than we thought.

And isn’t that an understatement?!