“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I know. I know. One day this won’t matter.
One day, I’ll look back on this situation that infuriates me and I’ll realize that life went right on. No one died. The earth didn’t stop spinning. The sun didn’t stop coming up every morning.
I get it.
But by God, today is not “one day.” Today is today. And today…it matters.
Without giving specifics (which I want to do sooooo bad), I’ll just say that I’ve had a “disagreement” with my kids’ school recently regarding the way some of the people in authority have handled a certain situation. I have tried so very hard to raise my kids to respect authority (heck, I even blogged about it), but sometimes…sometimes authority is just blatantly misused. It really is. Sometimes, just because someone is wearing the “I’m the boss” hat, that doesn’t mean they’re in the right.
My child took a chance and courageously spoke out against the way he and some friends were being treated by the coach of a sports team. And what was the result?
He is now no longer a part of the team. And not only that, he got sent off with a little jab about his own abilities and aptitudes in the sport. Great coaching, huh?
Now, granted, with the way things were being handled on the team (politics, politics, politics), I’m not entirely heartbroken that he doesn’t have to be a part of it anymore. But you know what? He is.
And that sucks.
Where do you draw the line, people? How do you raise your children to respect authority, and yet also teach them to stand up for themselves when the authority is corrupt? It’s such a thin line…such a gray area. Where’s my parenting handbook? Anybody got one I can borrow?
So, no. One day this won’t matter. One day we’ll look back on this moment in my son’s high school career and we’ll laugh about the insignificance of this particular incidence to the rest of his adult life. One day.
But today? Today I have a heartbroken kid who just got a cruel life lesson handed to him the hard way. Sometimes, even though you are doing the right thing and standing up for injustice, it may not work out. You may have to suffer the consequences for it.
So, the question to ask yourself is this: Are the consequences worth taking the risk?
I’m proud of my son and the courage it took to stand up for what he thought was right. I just hate that it sets the example for other kids to sit back and shut up because if you say something, you’ll be punished. That’s not what these kids need to learn. That’s not what the world needs to see.
There’s a healthy respect for authority. And then there’s a misuse of authority. It’s up to each of us as individuals to try our best to discern the difference.
And boy, that one’s a toughie.
One day this won’t matter. Really. It won’t.
Or will it?
“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.”
– Albert Einstein