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This is Not About That
September 6, 2021

I live in a wonderful community. One blessed by people who truly care about one another. I bet we have more food pantries, little free libraries, offers of free meals, and back-to-school-supply drives per square mile than anywhere in the country. We beautify our parks and consider people with disabilities and welcome refugees. We belong to service organizations and churches and can organize quickly to meet almost any need. Caring for the sick? We shave our heads in solidarity when someone has cancer, deliver casseroles, and run races to raise money for research and cures. We are Good Samaritans.

Hang with me through this next part. Sadly, my community, though filled with some of the kindest, most giving people in the land, has not managed to avoid the war over masks and vaccines in schools. But, please, don’t shut me out. This is not about that. Do I have an opinion? Yes. Do you? Yes. Do we agree? Maybe or maybe not, but for the next 300 words or so, can we please pretend it doesn’t matter?

Right now everyone–right, left, and center–is scared and it makes perfect sense. There is much to fear. But here’s the thing about fear; when we allow ourselves to continually operate from that space, we lose our ability to listen, to have compassion, and to engage in creative solutions. What I’m most worried about is this: in the process of “protecting” our kids, what are we teaching them?

Back when I taught high school English, I never believed the rules of grammar outweighed the importance of the tenets of good citizenship: honesty, integrity, responsibility, respectfulness, compassion, and kindness. Literature, in addition to the study of craft, was an invitation to critical thinking, a backdrop for discussion–culture, societies, history, and civil disobedience. I taught an entire unit on persuasive writing and introduced my students to the notion of reading with radar and how to recognize bias, a red herring, and a non-sequitur.

I was always aware of the limited scope of the influence of my curriculum. Kids watch their parents, teachers, principals, religious and community leaders, their heroes, and mostly, their friends. My question is this: are our current actions teaching our kids the skills they need to be successful? Are we modeling listening skills, emotional awareness, intellectual honesty? Are we inviting them to come from a place of courage rather than fear, compassion rather than opinion, and a sincere desire for understanding? Or, are we grooming our children to be a new world order of fierce bullies?

Maybe you want your child, his seat neighbor, and his teacher to wear a mask and be vaccinated. Maybe you don’t. But don’t we all want our kids to be socially and academically successful in school? Don’t we want them to have a good attitude and play well with others? Don’t we strive to provide and make life pleasant for our kids? Don’t we want them to be happy?

I worry that the great debate and the vitriol of discourse will be played out by our kids. School already provides plenty of opportunity for the trauma of comparison and competition without us adding to it.

My hope is simple. May we rise above inflammatory soundbites and labels. May we exemplify kindness and acceptance. May we remember, our children are watching.

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2 Comments

  1. Extremely well said Debi.

    Very straight forward and everyone should connect with your words … this I pray.

    Regards,

    Rob

    >

    Reply
  2. Amen😔

    Reply

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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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