Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Perspective on a Book Banning

Did you hear about the teacher who was banned
from teaching until next September because
she had her students reading a book called,
The Freedom Writers Diary? (Click to see
more about the book on Amazon)

Here is the video featured on CNN:
The Story about Connie Heermann

The part that stuck with me the most about
the story is toward the end of the video.
Someone from the community is saying how
she believes that Connie was sending a
poor message "if you're told no, do it
any way. It it feels good do it."

It's hard to know in a relatively short
video all of the details of the story.
Apparently, the teacher sent home
permission slips to the parents. Out of
150, she got 149 giving her permission
to teach the book from the parents.

The trouble came when the school told
her to take the books back, and she
decided otherwise. She decided that
the book was something that the kids
she was teaching should see, and she
acted on her own.

If you think about it, maybe there was
another way she could go? Maybe there
was another way she could have acted
within the environment that could have
been more acceptable?

And, maybe not.

My point here is more about how there
is a presumption that when "I" say so,
that is the way it should be. Forget
what you want, or why you want it, and
just follow ME blindly because I know
what is best.

I am fairly certain that anyone who
might be reading this has had at least
ONE occasion in your life when you acted
contrary to what you were told, because
YOU knew better, and YOU knew why what
you were doing could be of some benefit
to yourself or others - and,
more importantly - YOU were right.

I would never say that the "I" is never
right...but I would say that it is a
wise person and society that takes a
moment to question what is being said,
and why it is being said, and explore
it in a personal context before making
a choice.

After all, with July 4th around the corner,
what better example of this exact type of
thinking is there than the United States?

The colonists looked at what Britain
wanted and claimed. They heard what,
in Britain's eyes was best, but those
who were the US' founding fathers thought

I wonder - did they send a poor message?

I know it's not the same, but pretending
like something doesn't exist, or ignoring
the presence of some behavior or words,
won't make them go away. If that was so,
all of those well behaved adults we have
in our culture would have well behaved

Sometimes the best way to deal with something
is to stare it in the face. I would say
that even though the teacher was wanting
to say "you're not alone," she was also
choosing not to ignore what is present,
choosing instead to face it head on.

It's too bad the school board/community
didn't see it that way. Sometimes we
don't like the answers to the questions
we are asked, but there are times that
the actions taken by the rebel
can produce the results those who are
saying "Shhh" (both metaphorically and by
their actions) are attempting to accomplish.

I haven't read the book, or seen the movie,
but I would be willing to bet the teacher involved
in the story was a rebel of sorts, herself.
Apparently, the language was harsh,
but the results speak for themselves.

My question to that community is this,
"Are things better or worse than they
were 5-10 years ago?"

If they're worse, and you've been acting
the way you've been acting, what do you
have to lose by choosing something else?

Have you ever noticed that there are
times when the more you try to control
something, the more difficult it is to
control? I am sure you've probably
noticed that often times a "bad" thing
only gets worse when you
try to stuff it down.

You may think you're right, and maybe
you are. However consider this:

A champion is only a champion when
he goes up against another, and emerges
victorious. You can claim a victory
in this case, but how do you know
that what you think is best truly is,
if you haven't allowed your theories
and beliefs to be tested?

Of course, this is just MY perspective,
and that is the beauty of it all,
we all get to have one.

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