There are a lot of tough things to deal with in education right now. Our students are not where they need to be. We are still suffering from issues involving COVID. We are being asked to do an extremely important task with little to no support from people who are in positions of power. In addition, there is a constant litany of choices to be made, and my friends and I are finding it difficult to know if we are doing the “right” thing. Even the events transpiring within our current teachers’ union have a lot of people reacting and yelling, and it has a lot of people asking, “Should the right thing really be that hard?”
First, I think the definition of “right” thing is always difficult to define. There are some situations that can clearly be labeled “right” or “wrong” for me, but then there are the multitudes of situations where the idea of right and wrong becomes muddied by perspective as well as bias as well as overwhelming emotions. The right thing becomes an idealized version of reality that cannot be obtained when both parties are skewing the details to prove or make a point.
As a spectator watching both sides hold fast and tight to their right, it sometimes becomes difficult to see where right starts and wrong begins. Or even when I do feel as if I see it clearly, the right and wrong can be quickly transformed by a wrong word or action, and now the right and wrong of a black and white topic has become many, many shades of grey (and not the good kind).
Most recently, a friend was grappling with her values and was asking me if what she did was right. She was feeling she was wrong because she had alienated two of her close friends in the process of defending the “right” thing.
“Well,” I answered. “I believe you only ever have to be worried about disappointing yourself (Glennon Doyle- read https://untamedbook.com/. If you believe this as well, then you have to ask yourself if you would have disappointed yourself if you did not stand up for this.”
“Oh, absolutely,” she answered. “There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have been able to look myself in the mirror if I had just let this go.”
“Then you have your answer,” I responded.
“But why does it feel so bad? Why did people I care about react this way about it?” She asked.
And I thought about this for a moment because she had an excellent point, but here’s the reality. The right thing does not come along with a tag that says it will feel good OR that people will love you for it. It’s not the ending of Rudy where you have people holding you up and cheering for you and carrying you through the streets because you won the big game. No. The right thing often leads the protagonist face down in the dirt. The people they thought cared about then leave because they just don’t know who they are any longer. They are Atticus Finch getting attacked by his community. They are Bruce Almighty building and arc. They are every activists ever who stood up for what they believed was right and were kicked and punched. They were the women who fought for the right to vote. They were the men who fought against big businesses to form unions to protect the American worker. Some people stay, but those always the people you knew loved them beyond our simple definitions of what love is.
Perhaps the problem is that people want it to be easy. They want it to make sense to everyone, but if it made sense to everyone, there would be no reason to fight for it.
I stopped my tirade and I looked at her.
“You’ve never actually seen Rudy, have you?” She asked.
“No,” I responded. “Only the trailer.”
We laughed and she smiled, “I think I get it.”
Love and Light, All!