Video of Santa questioning 'naughty or nice' labels is a moving statement on mental health

Most depictions of Santa Clause fall along the traditional narrative we know and love. We see the rotund, bearded fellow making a list and checking it twice. With a twinkle in his eye, we expect him to ponder each child's behavior for the year and place them into a category—naughty or nice—to determine their deservedness in getting a gift.


Though there's obviously no jolly, omniscient figure putting children into binary categories, there are plenty of adults who do just that. If a kid doesn't conform to a specific standard of behavior, they're "naughty." If they say the right words, do the right things, and don't cause any trouble, they're "nice." Children are categorized and labeled—some good, some bad—and those labels often follow them throughout their lives.

But such a simplistic view doesn't square with what we actually know about children and behavior. Kids—and all humans, really—are not that cut and dry. People of all ages are complex, nuanced, and multi-faceted, and motivations for people's behavior rarely fall neatly into "naughty" or "nice." There's a whole range of reasons why people do the things they do.

RELATED: A huge thanks to those who openly share their mental illnesses. You saved my daughter.

That's the premise behind a new video released by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In it, we see Santa sitting on a rooftop, contemplating the categories he's used for 1000 years, in a surprisingly moving soliloquy about labels and children.

"I think I did this all wrong," he begins, before pondering how his habit of "reducing these growing, varied, intricate beings to some binary code of this or that, naughty or nice" might actually be doing them harm. "As if some kids son't have enough to worry about, only to have me judge them without context, without perspective, without any sort of doctorate psychology—honorary or otherwise."

"Did I condemn every kid who already felt like a misfit toy?" he asks. "Naughty or nice? Isn't it possible that they're nervous or nice? Uncomfortable-in-their-own-skin or nice? I'm-angry-and-I-don't-know-why or nice? My-impulses-are-beyond-my-control or nice? Hurting or nice?"

"And who can blame them?" he ponders. "With the news, the lockdown drills, the internet, the world is bearing down on them. And we expect these struggling kids to just...what? Speak when spoken to?"

"Show me an interesting, fully formed person and I'll show you a once difficult child," Santa continues, asking what would happen if we looked at kids in a whole different light.

RELATED: A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

It's not your typical Santa video, but it certainly has a magic of its own. To see children as layered beings instead of good or bad, naughty or nice, is perhaps the best gift we can give them.

Watch a contemplative Ol' St. Nick share his thoughts on the "naughty" or "nice" question, and prepare to have your feelings meter moved a few notches.

NAMI - “Naughty Or…" www.youtube.com

Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less