Kids

Why Does Everyone Get a Ribbon?

Written by Sharon Kennedy

A thought crossed my mind the other day that would make the thinning crowd running for the presidency happy. Give the Oval Office to all of them. Let the donkeys and elephants share the most coveted position in America. They can all be President and stop the name calling and million dollar negative ads. Lock them in the Situation Room until they agree on a sensible course of action for domestic and foreign affairs. I think we’d be surprised at how well they’d get along once they all shared the same crown.

A silly idea you say? Nay, I say. It’s a great idea. In our modern world where everybody gets a ribbon or trophy for participating in sports or bakeoffs or just about anything, everybody’s happy. Merit often takes a backseat to diplomacy. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We hand ribbons to competition losers so they won’t feel bad. I understand the logic behind such a trend. We feel sorry for kids who come in last and don’t want to destroy their self-esteem.

 In theory, passing out ribbons to everyone is like Santa giving out bags of candy. It’s a great idea because it makes each person feel special and that’s a good thing. Losers feel like winners and realize they win even when they lose so they never really lose. I question the merit of this process. If youngsters never experience losing, how will they adjust to the “real” world outside the public school system when losing is as much a part of life as breathing?

Does anyone consider the feelings of the winner? When my daughter was in fourth grade at Washington School there was an assembly held at the end of the academic year. Stephanie was an excellent student and anxiously waited for the principal to call her name. She thought she would receive a Certificate of Merit. Unfortunately she went home empty handed while classmates with lesser academic skills were acknowledged with Certificates of Improvement. Such discrimination taught her a valuable lesson.

In our attempt to praise everyone, we often forget the winner. When children are taught from kindergarten through twelfth grade they deserve recognition for mediocre or failing work, we have failed them. One look at the presidential candidates should make it clear people do not possess identical skills. Some are more prepared than others. Some have leadership ability while others are more skilled in sarcasm. Some are blessed with quick wit and others are dull. That’s just the way it is.

Individuals have unique abilities, but in a competition there can be only one winner. My suggestion of multiple presidents is ridiculous. It’s my way of proposing we re-evaluate this “everybody gets a ribbon” philosophy.      

 

About the author

Sharon Kennedy

Sharon M. Kennedy is a freelance writer from Brimley, a small town on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Sharon writes a general interest column for a number of local newspapers. She admits she’s a late blooming “Boomer” and tends to forget that most women her age are enjoying retirement while she’s embarking on a
new career. After teaching English Composition at a local university, Sharon turned to her real love. Writing stories that tug at your heartstrings or make you chuckle is her hallmark.