Five Minute Friday: VALUE
Our values show in what we say and in what we omit saying.
My Thanksgiving with family was wonderful in every way, truly.
In retrospect, however, there was a moment when I froze at a when I could have upheld my personal values better. In addition, I started the problem.
An extended family member now works in an extremely rural area of the South. We were discussing all the things that are NOT in the area (decent restaurants, sufficient shopping, etc.). I asked about schools: “I guess there’s one of each (elementary, middle, high)?”. The other person said that was correct, and that there is also a private school.
I said (with, I acknowledge, a healthy dose of my own snark), “It’s probably a super-Christian Bible academy right?”
The family member said it was an “academy,” but not necessarily a religious one.
They went on to say most of their coworkers send their children to the “academy” because the public schools are “dark.”
I. knew. exactly. what. they. meant. and. said. nothing.
My initial assumption about Christian schools was no more fair than the other person’s insinuation that the reason public schools are less desirable is because they have a higher-than-average minority representation.
***end of five minutes***
Every conversation these days (many of them, anyway) seems destined to divide us rather than bring us together.
I have opinions about ultra-conservative Christian schools that are probably overgeneralizations. Having been active in a pretty conservative Southern religious tradition when I was younger, having knocked on doors when I was 17 trying to “save” people, those opinions are mainly built on the fear that they don’t teach young men and women about the array of options in our world (in a variety of ways — gender, body privacy choices, what to read/think/do), but I can’t say they all are that restrictive.
I do, however, know people in our society are doing stupid, fatal things because of the fear of people who are “dark.”
As my acquaintance Susan Turner wrote in the Holocaust Education Resource Council’s response to the Pittsburgh tragedy, “Character is one’s only possession.”
I don’t know what I could have done instead of staying silent in that interaction (besides not initiating that conversational path in the first place) that wouldn’t have created a rift or moment of tension.
But I know it is a manifestation of our privilege that children throughout our nation (and right here in Tallahassee) are still getting worse educations because of their skin color and socioeconomic status — and we haven’t found a way to insist strongly enough that this be changed.
If the idea that “every child matters” is part of our value systems, we won’t make any progress if we stay silent in those one-on-one moments.
Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)