I took my kids to the county fair today and came across the coolest critter named Bob, the tortoise. Normally the petting zoo area of the county fair is for the kids, but I prefer to think of it as an opportunity for anyone to get up close and personal with God's creatures. That is… if you dare to remain young at heart. And no, I am not about to launch into an argument with anyone on the humanity of keeping a tortoise in captivity. I'm just not.
Bob may live to be 120 years old someday. At only 14, he will most likely outlive many of us reading this post. Imagine the insight Bob could collect in 100 plus years of life. It astounds me. How is it that this slow moving, entirely vulnerable egg-laying creature is one of the oldest surviving species on Earth? I'll tell you this much, he's obviously doing something right.
So here's the rub: If I were to become an advocate for tortoises because, as you know, many are becoming endangered, this would mean that I would want to actively involve myself in the preservation of these beautiful animals. I would find myself a platform, an organization of individuals who also want to save tortoises, correct? And we would work together to do the things, whatever they may be.
But if I were a tortoise advocate and I hopped on a soapbox and started hollering, “All animals matter!” because I care so passionately about Bob, did I accomplish anything?
Does anyone even know what I'm getting at? Sure, I'd get stares; I might even get pauses. But the point of my passion is missed.
I certainly don't intend to make light a subject that is currently a serious detriment to our society, but isn't that what is happening?
We have people protesting that black lives matter. And then we have another group of people protesting that all lives matter. Of course, they're both right. But, somehow, we've gotten ourselves all caught up in stereotypes and we've stopped listening. This idea could be applied to the current political dumpster fires as well. See what I did there? I digress.
For those of you who are new to my writings, I'm a teacher. To be specific, I'm a kindergarten teacher. I don't claim to be an expert in my profession. Props to you if you are one. Personally, I prefer to remain labeled a lifelong learner. I continue to observe and be amazed by my fellow colleagues each and every year. And every new batch of little darlings is a brand new adventure. I promise you, I can be a lot of things during the school year. Bored is never one of them. I sincerely love them all, and stand firm in my belief that they teach me more than I will ever be able to instill into them.
However, there are some constants to the kindergarten profession. One in particular being the means in which we teachers transmit valuable information to these tiny scholars. I'm not referring to multiple intelligences, either. For every child it can be this simple: Children will never understand a new concept by being preached at.
I cannot "generalize" a lesson. I have to be specific, and I have to be articulate or else risk them losing the message. Go back and re-read that. Moreover, I have to be an example for them. I have to model. And then I have to model again. And then I have to model again. And then maybe by the 723rd example, it starts to click. We are still working on skills at the end of the year that I have modeled since the beginning of the year. And that's okay.
Black Lives Matter is a movement. We all need to be at peace with that. Whether you agree with the way it's happening is irrelevant. There are people on one side of an invisible fence who feel wronged. There are people on the other side that don't believe the fence even exists.
How do we level the playing field? Let's start by acknowledging each other.
Here's a suggestion. If you are an "All Lives Matter” identifier, try with all your being, to imagine growing up with the predisposition that another race is better than you are. Don't tell me how absurd that is or how that ended with the 1963 March on Washington. Just TRY. You don't have to agree with it. You just have to hop in someone else's shoes for a hot minute.
If you are a Black Lives Matter identifier, try with all your being, to imagine not growing up with said predispositions from above. That perhaps you were raised to believe that all people are treated/created equally and that this recent anger and rioting is ludicrous and that officers are doing their best to uphold the law.
Both new concepts to the opposite side, no?
This is how you start a conversation on a new concept. So much like teaching in a classroom that it's scary. We have to UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER. We cannot stereotype and we cannot generalize. Because when we do, half the population stops listening.
I do actually believe that all lives matter. And I'm assuming if you were curious enough to click on this link or find this conversation that you do as well. I'm just saying that we're doing it wrong. We need to be specific in our endeavors, which is why I can understand the Black Lives movement and also stand firm in my beliefs that rioting and violence will never solve this problem.
Each and every one of us inherently learns by example. So, that means it starts with you. I have children to raise, as do many of us. I need them to know that every living thing on this planet deserves respect. I need to find ways to be an example for them. I need to push for things I believe in and be specific in my endeavors to change the world. I will not be a rioter. I will not be angry. But I will be a voice.