While in college, I participated in a roundtable discussion with three professors and three students. It was an experiment by one of the professors with the intention of promoting dialogue on a given topic, and while we were not at a table, we sat in a circle facing each other. The idea sounded interesting, and I was excited to be a part of it. Actually, I will never forget it.
The conversation was about a book that had to do with war, a dangerous topic. Well, the professors led the discussion and the students chimed in, reluctantly at first. Hence, there was one professor that seemed to be more outspoken than the others, and he made a point that I did not necessarily agree with. Thinking I was in a “safe room,” as my Vice Principal would say, I respectfully offered my stance, at which point he vehemently explained his friend had died in a war.
I was taken back, because this fact, as horrible as it was, had nothing to do with either of our points, but somehow gave him the right to belittle mine. And he did. He then asked me a few questions intended to make me feel guilty for not agreeing with him, at which point the student in me bowed out.
After the discussion, one of the other professors came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder and in an apologetic voice told me he appreciated my view, and he was glad I spoke up.
There is a dangerous climate that exists, one that has intensified as of late, where if an individual disagrees with someone of authority, then that individual is not patriotic, or not devoted to an admirable cause, or they are causing trouble. For example, a representative can do something or say something horrible and if they are questioned or called on it, their blatant vulgarity is marginalized or overlooked in the face of misdirection.
One of my measuring techniques in regards to right or wrong with our current political rhetoric is the honesty of the imaginary classroom. Now, that is not to say that I have not had my moments of misspoken pronunciation and bad stories for clarification in the teaching space. For example, the time I told the story of me running over my dog to exemplify the word “resilient.” It was an accident, and the dog was fine, but that class never looked at me the same…neither does the dog.
Anyway, I look at what is said or what is done in our current society by certain elected representatives and I imagine, would this be something a person could say or exemplify to maturing adults 16-18 years of age? And maybe the question should be: would a person be permitted to? Regardless of the pithy excuses given in the media, the answer always comes easy.
Right and wrong exist beyond the political rhetoric that both parties are putting forth. However, we are willingly grouped and separated into political parties when we should be coming together.
Maybe if we held politicians and representatives more accountable for right and wrong instead of left or right, there would be less corruption by these people we elect to represent, protect, and defend our rights and integrity as Americans.
I heard one of our elected officials say something very questionable the other day, and I knew it was unacceptable, but then I heard a bias newscaster tell me what to think about it. The news and journalism used to be more objective, giving us the facts and not interpreting them for us like we are sheep.
Brian Theodore is a language arts teacher at Corbin High School and lives in Corbin with his wife, who is also a teacher at CHS. He can be contacted at Theteachersdesk.firstname.lastname@example.org.