Chasing waves became a great game at the beach for me and my almost-two-year-old granddaughter recently.Little girl at the beach

You know, you walk out just to where the last wave ended. As the next wave comes splashing in, you back up quickly, trying to avoid letting the water “catch” you. She didn’t mind getting her feet wet, of course, but it didn’t take long before she was imitating me step-by-step. Holding hands and running back and forth at the edge of the water was lots of fun—for both of us.

We all know that children like to copy us. Whether it’s our speech or mannerisms or behavior, imitation by the little people in our lives is inevitable. One of the more memorable anti-smoking commercials showed a child picking up a discarded cigarette and smoking it.

But it occurs to me that not only children imitate what adults do. Just look at the current state of politics. When one candidate bullies and calls another candidate demeaning names, he starts a “trend” of name-calling and verbal abuse. Other candidates join in, and the entire campaign deteriorates into a childish display of “Whose voice is louder?” or “Who can be meaner?”

Social media contributes to the rude behavior, with commenters seemingly trying to outdo one another in their ridicule of the original post or of each other. It’s all become ridiculous.

How much could we improve our world if each one of us would be more careful about the example we set? We tend to be careful around our children and grandchildren. Let’s be just as thoughtful about being “role models” for those around us—in traffic, at the grocery store, at work, in our community, and on social media—by focusing on courtesy, truthfulness, respect, and service. By admitting our mistakes instead of pointing out someone else’s failures. In other words, by loving others rather than stirring up mistrust and hatred.

Jesus said, “Let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, GW).

Those who see you and me loving each other may seek the Lord whose light shines through us. And who knows? Perhaps if “we the people” act more civilized, our political leaders will begin to chase the same waves.[Tweet “She was #imitating me step-by-step.”]