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There was recently in the news a story regarding some parents' concerns about a song being sung in their children's elementary school Christmas concert. The KSL news report did not even begin to convey or properly reflect what seemed to be the at the heart of the controversy. The song was very rude and cruel, making fun of Santa Claus being fat. The concern is that children have a way all their own of pointing out the differences they see in others. They can be exceedingly cruel without being taught to be even more so.

Whatever happened to the old school of thought that believed such behavior to be the result of poor training and a lack of education? Education is supposed to refine and train a child in preparation for adult life. Coupled with lessons in compassion and understanding for others and the basic fundamentals of courtesy and respect taught at the knees of loving parents, a child should be more than prepared for a successful adult life, where personal relations are crucial.In a day and age where people long to be treated on an equal basis, pointing out differences only serves as a divisive technique, eventually resulting in special treatment and the resentment and anger that always follow.

If kindness, understanding and respect are shown for all, we can more easily focus on what we have in common and on what each one of us has to offer and to contribute to the whole instead of using social blinders to cast out and condemn.

If a child is encouraged to be so rude and cruel to a beloved character of childhood such as Santa Claus, why should he or she refrain from being rude to a real person who may have similar characteristics? In our particular area, we have many among us who are different from the so-called norm. I see them often at bus stops waiting to be taken to jobs or the training school. It would be shameful for these challenged individuals to be treated in such a manner. And yet this is what songs like this teach children to do. Think about it the next time you see someone who is mentally retarded, crippled or in some other way challenged. It's time to stop looking for the limiting characteristics of others and begin to look for the value in each and every human being. I have seen some amazing accomplishments come from those whom others would consider handicapped.

Sylvia Overson