Reader Responses to "Fighting the Good Fight"<br>
Part II

Continued below is Part II of reader responses to "Fighting the Good Fight." To read the original article please click on Fighting the Good Fight

If you missed Part I, click on Reader Responses, Part I

Reader Responses (continued):

Another comment from P.M. D'Acre with whom I exchanged emails many times:

If you truly want to be non-victimized, then the most effective manner at your personal disposal is to be out of the way when the aggression forms. And there is a philosophy of living that suggests that each of us draws to us that which we most abhor in ourselves, regardless of chronological age.

Your move.

** My reply:

I have no "move," other than to say that I agree with you to some extent, but that I think you miss the deeper issues. Your philosophy works in some situations, but perhaps not in all and rather than spouting philosophies, we should be more sensitive to context. I believe in non-violence, but non-violence is a product of development of consciousness.

While I did not respond to P.M.'s last comment: "And there is a philosophy of living that suggests that each of us draws to us that which we most abhor in ourselves, regardless of chronological age," I find such a philosophy very dangerous, particularly to children. This is a New Age philosophy that makes us accountable for everything that happens in our lives. Please be careful with such philosophies. Children are not developmentally able to take responsibility for everything that happens to them. (I'm not sure that anybody should.) Focus your child's attention on taking responsibility for what he does.


From P.M. again:

I believe it's TIME..TIME to shift from the 'in your face/spirit/emotional' energetics that prevail in our world.


My response:

Again ... this is a function of development. In the book I'm writing on parenting, I explore the stages of development. This is a crucial process for adults to understand. Understanding human development gives a framework with which to assess and guide the behavior of your children. In addition, it's a tool that leads to greater self-understanding for adults.


The next feedback is a long one. Due to this, I've broken it up and inserted my responses and highlighted them in another color. This email is from Laurie in D.C.:

I believe it is the parent's job to instill morals and values in our kids, not the schools. When things happen that we don't like (fair or unfair in our subjective viewpoint), we can teach:

1) that life's not fair and we need to fight back for the injustice in the world (which amounts to the victim mentality that runs rampant in our society) -or-

2) that we need to turn the other cheek. By that I mean that we need to teach our children to respect an authoritative decision and respect for the law (which isn't perfect by any means but holds society in place). If that is not taught, then we'll end up teaching them to hold grudges and harden their hearts toward others.

This is where I think our society's perception of the role of the school is not clear. We should not expect the school system to behave in every aspect the way we ourselves do at home. Their goal is simply to educate other people's children in writing, math, etc. to prepare them for the work force and to be a contributing citizen. The school is an institution, imperfect that it is. And you put your trust in it by enrolling your child. The school doesn't need to be in the middle of this "war of values". What about the neighbor who differs in her values and wants justice for her child? Who's right and who's wrong? The school's job is not to put the kids on trial and figure out "who started it". Is it really possible for them to act as a babysitter and accomodate all the parents?

** My response:

I'm not asking for perfection, Laurie. This is the same thing that the principal said, "The system isn't perfect." My reply: "I'm not asking for perfection. All I'm asking for is a little humanity."

What I think you're missing, Laurie, is that there are some truisms of life. These universal values blur cultural and developmental lines and unite us in our humanity. This is the level to which we all must rise in order to grapple with such issues.


Laurie in D.C. again:

If it bothers you that much that their values don't jibe with yours, you do have the option to educate your child at home so he will hearn the values you deem important. The conversation you had with the school sounded very appropriate on their behalf. They did listen, but they have rules in place for a reason. I commend them for taking a stand with all the school violence that is happening across the nation. Again, remember their role. You said "The school system should be a microcosm of (real life), otherwise it's a setup." School is only a place for learning, not socialization. How many times have you heard "You're here to learn, not to socialize!" Your job as a parent is to instill values and morals. School is not a microcosm of the "real world". Life has to be taught at home, not in the schools.

** My response:

I disagree with your philosophy, Laurie, and hold to my statement: "School must be a microcosm of the real world, otherwise, it's a setup." The same rules that govern adults should govern children in our schools. This is how an institution such as the school system teaches children the rules of society. And regardless of whether the school system takes responsibility for teaching, it is teaching by example.

I'm not sure how, as a teacher, you can make the statement that "school is only a place for learning, not socialization." Socialization is part of the learning process that occurs at school. This is one reason why many parents forego homeschooling and send their children to public schools ... because there are other children and authority figures and parents know this will help their child learn social skills. Unfortunately, the public school system is also a place for indoctrination. This is part of what I'm helping my son to see.

Whenever authority figures are involved in a child's life, they have a responsibility to teach what's right. Here's an example for you. Let's say a black boy is taught at home by his parents that everyone is equal, but he goes to school and is called the "N" word by some of his classmates. In your philosophy, a teacher would not get involved because she sees that as the parent's job. Not only is this teacher's behavior unjust, it's violent. Adults have a responsibility to all children to have some courage and take a stand.

It doesn't matter who you are ... if you're an adult, I believe you have a responsibility to teach children what's humane.

You say that life has to be taught at home, not in the schools. But school is a very large portion of a child's life. A typical child spends six to eight hours a day in school. This is his life. Should we trivialize what happens during six hours of our child's daily life just because some authorities don't want the added responsibility?


Laurie in D.C. again:

Now to the heart of the matter: Getting down to what really happened. While I believe that your child might not have been involved in any way whatsoever except being at the wrong place at the wrong time (because the situation you described could easily happen during school hours), we still need to bring the "lesson home" afterwards. Since our tongue is the most dangerous weapon we own, is it possible before the "physical abuse" that occurred, there was "verbal abuse"?

** My response:

Our tongues may be dangerous weapons, but they are certainly not the most dangerous weapons we own. Just ask any kid who has grown up in a ghetto. Inhumanity is the most dangerous weapon we "own." And inhumanity wears many faces. One of it's more subtle forms is the willingness to turn a blind eye to injustice.

** Laurie in D.C. again:

Even if that didn't happen, is it possible that by bad-mouthing the school board (that you put in authority over your child during school hours), that you might be guilty of using your words in a deregatory manner?

** My response:

I challenged them to open their eyes to the importance of a concept called "justice." This is a big distinction.

** Laurie in D.C. again:

That would send mixed signals to your child. Also, you would be sowing the seeds of disrespect of those in authority over him, including his parents. While it is ok to question here and there, the school principle has stood firm and you still didn't accept it.

** My response:

That's right ... injustice is unacceptable!

I want my children to have a question in their minds with regard to authority figures. After all, there are authority figures out there who are just plain lazy or who don't have children's best interests at heart. I want my children to learn to make their own distinctions and to think for themselves. I want them to see who loves children and who just pretends to. I want them to start to notice who champions greater truth and who hides behind indoctrination. This is the bigger issue here. This is my dream for my children and for all the children of the world. Ultimately, we should teach children to trust themselves.

As a parent, I want my children to grow up knowing who they are and knowing what they believe in. I will always encourage them to ask questions and inquire about rules that make no sense. I'm not raising a compliant robot. I'm raising an intelligent human being. Intelligent beings ask questions.

** Laurie in D.C.:

With your non-acceptance, you're perpetuating the cycle of victimization that is so rampant in our society. Since you have put your child in this system, you have in a sense abdicated your authority to some degree for them to handle things in their way, not yours. So, in a way, you have put your child in this situation by sending him there, right? So you need to now take responsibility for that.

** My response:

Your statement is nonsense. When you put your child in the school system, you're not abdicating your authority. If your children can't depend on you to take a stand against unjust rules and authorities, who in the world will they ever be able to trust? My son already knows he can't trust certain authorities, but he needs to know that he can trust his mother.

I am taking responsibility by trying to get the school system to see what they fail to see ... that the heart of violence is a strong sense of injustice.

** Laurie in D.C. again:

Violence breeds violence, but it has to stop somewhere- with your son. It takes a stronger man to not advocate violence. This is the lesson we need to teach our kids!

** My response:

My son is not a man, Laurie! He's a seven year old child! The concept of non-violence is an abstraction that is learned through training and development. This continues to be my biggest frustration point - that many educators seem to have little understanding of child development.

** Laurie in D.C. again:

While I hope that I've given you some food for thought in a very enotional issue, please don't take offense. As parents, I believe that "iron sharpens iron" and by you using your forum to make this situation known, I decided to send my thoughts as feedback. Since family is where our focus is, shouldn't we bring all issues that happen in the world back to the home where family matters?
Laurie in DC

My response:

Yes and no, Laurie. The big issues of life, such as "justice for all" are issues that transcend cultural values. They are issues that can and should be worked out by responsible, caring adults. Ultimately, we are individually and collectively responsible for raising a generation of humane adults.

Copyright© 2001 by Laura Ramirez. All World Wide Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted without express written permission from the author.

This is the end of Part II of the reader responses to "Fighting the Good Fight." To read Part III, click on Reader Responses Part III. Please remember to complete the survey at the end of the section.

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