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The beating death incident in Shenandoah is a huge topic on The REPUBLICAN & Herald’s Web site.

All you have to do is take a look at the number of comments listed under each story dealing with the tragedy.

Many say that what happened had to do with race. Other say it was a fight gone wrong.

I’m not here to make that judgment. I’ll leave that to the authorities.

Nevertheless, the subject of race is apparently the talk of the
region. A co-worker was at lunch the other day and heard someone
talking about the Shenandoah incident. During the gist of the
conversation it was said that racism isn’t something you’re born with,
it’s learned.

That said, three things come to mind.

Over the weekend, the Disney movie “Remember the Titans (2000)” was
on the ABC Family network. Based on a true story, the movie details the
1971 T.C. Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Va. The
school was integrated that year with black and white students. This
included the appointment of Herman Boone, who is black, as head coach
and his predecessor Bill Yoast, who is white, as his assistant.
Eventually the team comes together, finishing with an undefeated season
and winning the state title.

I have the movie on DVD, but tuned in mid-way through the network’s
production. When the scene showing protesters outside the school
building on the first day of school appeared, my 4-year-old daughter
asked me why the people were shouting at the students. I told her it
was because some people did not want black and white students going to
school together.

I explained to her that many years ago students of different colors
went to separate schools. Her little eyebrows lifted in surprise. No
wonder — she attends day care with children of other races and it’s
nothing out of the ordinary for her. I told her that today, children
from different backgrounds go to school together.

I am trying to teach my daughter to be confident in herself yet
tolerant of others. We all might look different on the outside, but
we’re really all the same on the inside.

This brings the second thing to mind when it comes to racism being
learned — a song by country singer Martina McBride called “In My
Daughter’s Eyes.” The second verse says, “In my daughter’s eyes,
everyone is equal. Darkness turns to light, and the world is at peace.
This miracle God gave to me gives me strength when I am weak. I find
reason to believe in my daughter’s eyes.”

Children see the world in such an innocent way. From a little one’s
perspective, as the song says, everyone is equal. The differences
aren’t seen.

Children are impressionable, however, and children learn what they
live — which brings the third thing to mind. It is a poem by Dorothy
Law Nolte, Ph.D., titled “Children Learn What They Live.” The author
says that if children live with certain qualities, then they learn the
things associated with them.

My mother received a decorative plate with this poem on it when my
youngest sister was born, and when Amber was born, a great-aunt gave me
a framed copy of it. I believe in its words. Let’s see if you do.

Children Learn What They Live

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.