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Robyn Harper Headshot

An Open Letter to One Million Moms: Bullies by Another Name

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Mom always knows best. That's how the old saying goes. I didn't always believe it when I was younger. My teenage years certainly challenged it. Despite our quarrels, however, I never doubted the influence of her motherly guiding force. Thankfully, and owed to her, I always knew right from wrong. She nurtured my independence whilst curtailing my stubbornness. Now I've come full circle. She's on a pedestal, and she deserves to be there.

For that reason, it disheartens me to see the headlines. Another negative headline, another "One Million Moms" initiative. Are they intertwined? Do the two go hand in hand? Amongst the latest campaigns, two in particular cause me unease. The first concerned Ellen DeGeneres, which failed. The second denouncing two women kissing must surely be bound for the same fate. You see, the difficulty with these campaigns lies in the motivation behind them. They're not driven by integrity, they're not inspired by acceptance, they're not pursued with fairness, they're not spurred by equality, they're not in favor of change, and they bypass justice. I see little underlying these campaigns other than intolerance. That simply, and indeed that sadly.

Moms, to read the purpose of your campaign, in which you claim to be serving your children, is what worries me and even goes as far as frightening me. The crux of the matter is that you claim to be serving your children, but (and this is important) what message are you sending your children? What are you teaching them?

Do you read the newspapers, Moms? Do you read of the bullies? Do you read of the tragedies? Let me take you to the schoolyard. We'll look around. What motivates the bullies? What perpetuates their wrong? Intolerance is the answer. What combats bullying? Education. Who was their first educator? You guessed it: Mom. Bullies do in the schoolyard what you do online.

I'm sure you'll agree that bullying is a socially unacceptable reality. It's fuelled by intolerance, it's a fear of diversity, it causes hurt, it causes pain, and often worse. It hinders acceptance, it hinders equality, it hinders love. Moms, you are bullies by another name. Don't forget, bullies can scar minds as well as bodies. Don't discount the force of your strikes. So I ask, what message are you sending your children? What are you teaching them?

A review of one campaign notes your point of contention: your target of intolerance is a kiss. Your dispute centers on a kiss. What does a kiss represent? It's an embrace; you call it that yourselves. Kisses represent affection. Are you condemning affection? You label a kiss "offensive and inappropriate to teenagers." What's a more popular sign of love? You could even call it a sign of the times. "But it's between two women!" you'll shout in response. Exactly. So who's getting left behind?

In a separate campaign your target of intolerance was Ellen. Ellen DeGeneres, the household name. You put values on the table. You questioned what she represents. I'll tell you what she represents, Moms. She represents the essence of bravery, courage, inspiration, and hope. She promotes love, acceptance, and equality. What a fine example she sets for your children. Can they say the same of you? Our adored crusader has captivated the hearts of millions. Why? Because integrity is one of those fine qualities that all our heroes share. It's why we love them. She is a leader. You met with resistance, Moms. Your attempts failed. That resistance was equality.

Consider those values again: bravery, courage, inspiration, and hope. Can a mom really wish for anything less for her child? Think about it. Are you teaching your children to embrace love, acceptance, and each other, or are you teaching them to fear change, diversity, difference, maybe even you? Will they join the bully in the schoolyard? Will they be the bully in the schoolyard? What message are you sending your children? What are you teaching them?

Our children are the future; they just don't know it yet. But we do. That knowledge comes with responsibility. That responsibility is to give them the best starting point, to instill courage, not fear.

When we hold ourselves to a higher standard, it's not just for us; it's for our children. Our children follow our lead; they follow our example. That means we're duty-bound. Every mom has the opportunity to be a positive role model. Such a duty, I believe, is bestowed upon her the very instant she is blessed with the gift of a child. What are you teaching your little boys and girls? They're depending on you; they're depending on their mom. Give them the fair start they're owed.

Yes, how admirable: teach your children to be heard, to stand up for what they believe in. The difficulty, however (and as I've said, this is important), is what exactly you are teaching them to believe in. It negates any admiration.

There's strength in numbers. You must surely agree, as your overly ambitious title suggests. Indeed, and unsurprisingly, your actual roll call reflects a significant shortfall. Allow your children that fair start. You wouldn't like them a victim; don't make them a bully.

Campaigns hinging on intolerance will ultimately be the cause of their own failure. They will never be winners. Why? Because discrimination can never be a winner. The very foundation upon which your campaigns are run shakes, and it shakes with uncertainty. Why? Because you're taking on and competing with equality. Who will triumph? Perhaps more importantly, who will lose? The children?

I'll conclude on a personal note. The term "mom" for me is synonymous with love, care, and acceptance. Mom is no bully. You are nothing like my mom. She's my hero. She taught me love. She taught me acceptance. She shows me both in abundance, every day. It's her job, after all: she's my mom. Mom always knows best? Not this time. I guess in that sense, the prestigious title is reserved for the good ones.