Conflicts Avoided on Facebook

Subtitle: What I didn’t say out loud.

I’d shared a picture of Paul Ryan with this quote attributed to the Speaker of the House: “Kids from single mothers turn into welfare moochers, criminals, and ‘takers’. The second picture showed Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton with a title announcing “We disagree.”

A buddy from my college days was offended. He ranted at me that I’d been unfair to Paul Ryan.

“He’s spent serious time in inner-city neighborhoods with no publicity, learning from people in the trenches about what works and what doesn’t about alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable development rather than soul-sucking dependency. There are other Republican office-holders (not to mention the radio blowhards) who fit the stereotyped line better, but Ryan is not one of them.

Though it should also be noted that children of single mothers ARE at higher risk for just about every kind of social pathology (low achievement in school, arrest and imprisonment, teenage pregnancy, poverty, divorce, drug abuse, etc.). Not all have those problems, of course, and there are children of intact families who do, too, but the overall rates are notably different. It’s hard to solve problems when you deny they exist.”

Deny problems exist? I teach. I’ve taught in public schools for 20 years now. I’ve worked with single parents, mothers and fathers, people who faced challenges the honorable Speaker can only imagine.

I could have reminded my angry old friend that I live in Wisconsin, Mister Ryan’s home state. Teachers who are also his constituents have written letters, blog posts, and more to show the Congressman’s lack of knowledge and real-life experience. The evidence I’ve seen doesn’t point to “learning from those in the trenches,” but rather creating his own truths and announcing his own generalizations.

Ryan is among those on the high road – at this point, at least. He and my own representative Reid Ribble have both denounced the narrow minded partisan bullying on Capitol Hill. However, I’ll stick to my guns: I experience and understand the daily struggles of families with one parent much, much better than my intelligent yet ignorant friend.

I didn’t respond to his post. I know what he meant, and I know which parts of his argument were inaccurate. Frankly, I keep him on my timeline to keep me informed of how people are thinking on the other side of many issues. It’s too bad he didn’t realize he was talking to one who lives and works in a field about which he knows little.

Readers, how do you react when confronted in this manner online? Leave a comment, please.

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