Yesterday, speaking as a mother and as First Lady, you unveiled your “Be Best” campaign “to educate children about the many issues they are facing today.” Your speech focused on the “social, emotional, and physical health” of children, and promoted “well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse.” A grammar quick rule (for future reference) is that items in a series should use parallel construction: each item in the series should follow the same pattern. As you can see, your campaign statement promoting well-being is coherent, but promoting social media use is somewhat confusing, and promoting opioid abuse is perhaps counterintuitive. Also, “be best” isn’t an actual sentence in English.
However, I know what you meant even if it isn’t what you said. So I’ll let the grammar lesson go and focus on your intentions. (And your intentions are good.) But Melania, here’s the thing: we are not ready to be [the] best quite yet. Right now, we need to simply be better.
You spoke of “social and self-awareness, positive relationship skills, and responsible decision-making” and the need to teach our children to “communicate openly with one another and instill positive feelings of mutual respect, compassion, and self-esteem.”
Melania, this is an area where we can truly be better. I might suggest that the White House is an excellent place to start. We can teach our leaders—even our President—how to build positive relationships and communicate with mutual respect and compassion. Instead of belittling, name-calling, mocking, and insulting, let’s be better. Let’s build relationships, not walls. Let’s build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Imagine how much better we could be.
You also said that we need to “teach our children the difference between right and wrong.”
Melania, this is another area where we can truly be better! It is so elementary: lying is wrong. Telling the truth is right. Let’s teach our president and his followers how to tell the truth! Coercion and collusion are wrong. Cooperation and self-control are right. Think of how much better our lives could be if our leaders knew the difference between right and wrong.
You said that “when children learn positive online behaviors early on, social media can be used in productive ways and can affect positive change.” And you said, “when they are using their voices, whether verbally or online, they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.”
Melania, this is brilliant! Let’s do this together! Let’s insist that our president learn positive online behaviors, use social media in productive ways, and affect positive change! If only he would choose his words wisely and speak with respect and compassion. If only he could be better. Imagine all the good he could do!
And finally, Melania, you said that successful recovery programs treat “the whole family” and infants can thrive “because parents are also given the support and tools needed to recover and succeed.” You said, “I hope that together we can be best at helping children and families find effective ways to educate themselves and support each other.”
This is an area where we could be so much better. Imagine how the children in our country could thrive, if we supported all families in their times of need. Imagine living in a country where poverty was rare, not the norm. Imagine living in a country where every family had food on the table, and where every child had a safe home and a warm bed. Imagine how our entire country could thrive if we actually took care of each other-—of everyone—and excelled in support instead of judgment.
Melania, I believe that we can be better. Imagine if we insisted that our president be better. Imagine if we demanded that our leaders be better. Imagine a country led by people who communicated with respect and compassion, knew right from wrong, and believed that, given the support and tools they needed, all families could recover and succeed.
We simply can’t begin to “be best” if we haven’t begun to be better.
Let’s demand that our country be better. Are you in?