I honestly don’t remember where I heard this statement. It could have been a line in a movie, or maybe something said on a news program by a commentator or someone being interviewed. I Googled it and immediately saw that I could order a t-shirt with this statement on it, and that there is a blog out there with this statement as a title. It would appear that at least somewhere, it is a common cliché or one-liner. Heck, I hadn’t ever heard it before!
My initial reaction to it was “that’s kind of a funny line” and “boy, isn’t that the truth!” So I wrote it down, as I often do, because I like to keep track of quotes, and then came across it and had a new reaction. To put it blunt, I am tired of intolerance. I am tired of some people who express their mean, sick, negative opinions of other people. The battle of words being waged by people who disagree with a person’s sexual preference, and the actions taken by zealots that prohibit women from exercising their “inalienable rights.” Our own governor refusing to allow child refugees to come to Iowa, even though there are families more than willing to take them into their homes. Didn’t he live here when Governor Ray and hundreds of Iowans welcomed families and individuals from Southeast Asia? Because these kids don’t speak our language and I would guess, come from Central American countries, they are somehow “less” than other children. These kids are fleeing lives of violence, poverty, and in many cases, and absence of any kind of a family with the hope of a better life in this great nation of ours. Just like all of our forefathers, they have come here seeking comfort and a new start. We can certainly deal with this immigration issue better, but the venom coming from the mouths of people like Ann Coulter and other talking heads is disgusting. It seems that many people that have the microphone have a total disregard for civility and respect. Why do kids bully? Because adults can get away with it!
In our school, we still haven’t gotten to the point where we have mutual respect and tolerance for all, though were are certainly closer than other aspects of our society. Every school is a melting pot of different people. Teachers and students come in all different shapes and sizes, and a few different colors. There are different personalities, ideas, opinions, and motivations. We have students with unique abilities and some with disabilities. Diabetics, autistics, hearing impaired, musically impaired, athletically delayed, academically gifted, academically challenged, tongue-tied, and vertically compromised are but a few of the characteristics of people in our building.
There are people that think they are better than others because they are natives, living in this community their entire life, and others who believe they are superior because of their last name or due to the income that their parents generate. It is difficult for students new to town to be accepted for a multitude of reasons, but in large part it is because they in someway may threaten the status quo. By the time students reach high school they have unfairly established some type of a pecking order. That is not totally unique to our school, but there are places where people are welcomed and integrated easily into the school community.
By now some of you believe that I have thoroughly trashed the students and staff at our school. No, I haven’t. We have a very good school and we have many great people that walk through the doors every day. Each person has a lot more good days than bad, and we are all human. Mutual respect is absolutely necessary in order for any organization to function at its highest level. Mutual respect is contingent on acceptance and tolerance. On some issues, that is the ability to agree to disagree, done so respectfully. In human relations, it is absolute adherence to the Golden Rule, the only “law” consistent in all of the major religions of the world. Every person that resides in our building for a few hours each day must have the opportunity to leave with a smile on their face because they had a good day, because they didn’t have someone call them a name, put them down, or refuse to let them sit at the same table at lunch. Tolerance. Acceptance. Respect. Community. Until we have an environment where 100% of our people exercise those character traits 100% of the time, we have a problem and we have work to do. We don’t have any freaks, and while there are days when is does seem like it, NFVHS is not a circus.