Unless

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.
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It’s not. 

When did we stop caring? I remember how it felt as a teen and young adult who cared. The fact is, I still am that truth-seeking girl. I knew that every little thing I did mattered. It might not have mattered immediately, in the grand scope of the universe, but like a pebble dropped into a pond, I knew that one action could easily affect others.

My family is dealing with school administration and a community that has stopped caring. It is so disappointing and disheartening. It begins with a principal who doesn’t apologize when she’s found wrong, chooses dishonesty, does the bare minimum, plays politics, and has lost sight of the children at school. It starts when a few teachers, who the administration readily recognize have issues, choose the profession, and now allow their weaknesses, their bitterness, their anger to overcome their original purpose for teaching. They have decided that apologies are beneath them. It continues when parents who merely whisper, who acknowledge there are problems, but don’t have the courage to speak up, to stand up, and to do anything. The result? Generations of children, and families who suffer the consequences of people who simply, don’t care.

Apathy is a sinister, slow moving cancer. It clouds judgement, it destroys justice, it erases mercy. It can make a simple question to a district administrator cause fumbling and reluctance to answer. “Which is worse, a kid pushing a kid, a parent pushing a kid, or a teacher on school grounds pushing a kid?” Who knew a question like this would be a “reasonable” debate for adults? Wow.

Maybe they’re all afraid. Maybe they’re more concerned with covering their own bottoms. Maybe they just don’t want to bother with speaking up. Maybe they just don’t care. That is perhaps the most frightening thing of all. Are we past feeling? Are we numb? Are we all so concerned with our own comfort that we discard the feelings of our children? Have the routines of life destroyed our ability to imagine changing things for good? Is self-interest the prevailing wisdom?

Is it uncomfortable to stand up for what is right? Of course. Unfortunately, doing the right thing is rarely comfortable. Is it convenient to confront people who are doing wrong? Never. Nothing worth doing is ever convenient. It’s time consuming, emotionally taxing, work. Is it worth it to change things even if you won’t see the benefit in your lifetime? Serving others is what we’re here for, isn’t it? Doing good ought to be a worthy goal.

I want things to be better for my children. I want things to be better for all children. I don’t think it’s right for other parents to deal with the same, tired issues over and over and over. Just because that’s how it’s always been does not make it right. We’re in this together, we should be united to help each other. I don’t think any child should feel afraid to ask a teacher questions. I don’t think children should suffer the bad mood, cranky attitudes, or sullen spirit of any grown adult, let alone a teacher. Just because some kids “survive” doesn’t make it okay. That’s not a good excuse. One child hurt, is one too many. I don’t think any child should be called a liar when her teacher hits and pushes her, and other children witness, and tell their parents. I don’t think that child should be told by the teacher, the principal, and the assistant principal that it wasn’t’ a “physical push” it was “gentle direction.” I think, when an adult makes a mistake, and feels true remorse, I think that adult should, at minimum, apologize sincerely to that child, and be an example for good. I think any administration that tolerates, and self-perpetuates reprehensible behavior should be dismantled.

Our kids deserve better. As adults, we should expect better. How dare we make excuses? How dare we treat each other with such carelessness?

I think any parent that stands up for their child is merely doing the job they signed up for. If that’s what they call a “reputation” by the school administration, then that’s exactly the reputation we should all work for. Call me crazy, but I believe that any position of power ought to defend, protect, and cheer the weak, not bully them.

There’s a reason why I like Dr. Seuss, and not just for the whimsical prose he created. He was a man who knew that one person could, and should, make a difference, and that “unless” is a sobering word indeed.

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