If you can’t go back to your mother’s womb, you’d better learn to be a good fighter. (Anchee Mihn, Red Azalea)
Today is day four of a government shutdown. It’s actually more of a slow down but the beltway clown show is in full force. There are lots of memorials in the capital city and for some reason (perhaps to inflict high visibility pain in an effort to sway the public) the brilliant powers that be decided to close a World War II memorial knowing that groups of 90+ year-old American veterans were going to arrive to visit the memorial dedicated to them. Now picture this, I’m not talking about a building that people have to go in and out of. In that case, you’d simply turn off the lights and lock the front door. I’m talking about an open air memorial that’s outside, always accessible and approachable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (think statue in the center of a public park). Government representatives actually had to go find barriers elsewhere, bring them to the memorial and place them around it to try to keep the veterans from getting close to the thing. Luckily, wiser heads prevailed and nobody intervened to arrest the vets when they ignored the barricade and proceeded to make their planned visit. While reading about this story my blood began to boil but then I scrolled down through the comments on the article and there was one that made me laugh. It was from a younger veteran and he said he was willing to go to the memorial, stand guard against anyone trying to prevent the vets from visiting and if someone should try to stop them he’d “stab them in the eye with his good conduct pin.” Well, that’s the spirit! I can honestly say I’d be honored to stand right there with him because some things are worth fighting for.
A couple of days ago I got a call from my 9-year-old son’s school. It was the Administrative Intern although she identified herself to me as the Assistant Principal. Apparently my son had gotten a disciplinary referral from his teacher for unsafe behavior. After talking with her and then with my son when he got home from school I was able to piece together the whole story. Apparently, during class, my son had broken his pencil lead. He picked up the little piece of graphite from the desk and threw it at his friend. It’s important to mention that the referral for this infraction goes into a permanent file (actually a data base) along with a “self-reflection” sheet they had my son write about the incident. That’s where my problem with this process comes in. I’ve been a classroom teacher and I have extensive experience with children. I know perfectly well you can get them to cop to almost anything. If you want to call throwing a piece of graphite unsafe behavior and put it on the same level as pushing kindergarten children off swings, or lighting matches at school, what’s a child going to do about that? How would he know that what he writes on his self-reflection should be detailed and descriptive enough that an adult looking at it later would have no room for mis-interpretation of what actually happened? A 4th grader (or any minor child) can’t be expected to write documentation that is entirely accurate and impervious to broader interpretation. I’ve spent a good portion of my time these last few days politely but firmly explaining my position to the school. Not only have I been on campus, talking to the involved parties, I’ve done my own documentation (for their data base..and mine) regarding this policy. I have no interest in deflecting bad behavior consequences for my son but I absolutely will not allow confessionals that are unchecked for detailed accuracy into permanent school files. My approach with the school over the last days has been respectful and conducted in a spirit of cooperation. All that being said, it’s still a fight. I’m happy to stand up for my son while he’s still young and hasn’t gained the maturity or wisdom to effectively stand up for himself. Some things are worth fighting for.
Getting to the gym this last week has been a real chore. Things seem to be moving at hyperspeed and I can hardly keep up. Life gets that way at times. It would be so easy to simply skip workouts in lieu of making progress on other fronts. Early in the week I knew the next days were going to be a challenge so I made an agreement with a gym friend to do our workouts together. That way I would be beholden to her and have to show up even if I didn’t want to. Sure, I could just take some time off and give myself a break until my schedule opens up but in all honesty, almost every single gym day I could gin up some reasonable excuse not to go. I sincerely value the good things exercise does for me…stress relief, strength preservation, physique sculpting and cardio health. I could easily allow outside forces to keep me from my workouts but my personal health and well-being are critical and some things are worth fighting for.
Life is full of fights of one sort or another. You have to fight for your personal health so that you have the strength to stand up and fight for your family, your loved ones, your community and sometimes for higher ideals and principles. You’re not here to just live out your days in a passive fog. You’re here for a reason. The world needs you. It needs your time, your attention and your work and it all begins with fighting for yourself.