i was lucky enough to go to a lovely highschool with an interesting and inspiring headmaster in my time there. when the gulf war began the entire school assembled “for as long as we needed” to share facts, information, and feeling about what was going on. the assmebly ended up going on for two days. imagine, an educator who understood the importance of not having classes and instead being a community.
one day two of the young men attending my school got into a fist fight in a common area. several of us were witness to the outbreak and, putting it mildly, fist fights were not something i saw everyday at my school. again, the headmaster chose to call the community together to talk about what had happened. in other institutions i have been a part of similar issues have been swept under the carpet or kept quiet, but my headmaster was all for working through things that affected the community as a community.
the things is, he was also mad. i didn’t fully understand it at the time in the ways i do now. here was a man who dedicated himself to helping to develop the knowledge, learning, life skills of a few hundred children at a time. he cared very deeply and he wanted to do a good job. and he believed that a core tenant of life – the core tenant of life – was kindness.
on the day of the fist fight he was angry because we had not listened to him as he taught this again and again and again. so he had a moment where he needed us to understand the importance of the message. he stood in front of all of us and he shared the details of what had happened. he told us exactly what the disciplinary actions taken were. he gave each involved student a moment to apologize to the school if they wanted. and then he spoke, quite eloquently (he was an english professor as well and it always shone through in his speaking) about the importance of kindness in life. the ability to be kind to all living things, to other human beings, to fellow students. he went on for a bit and we listened quietly. then towards the end of this beautifully crafted speech he got quiet. he was quiet for a few moments. then he said something akin to this:
“if you learn anything in your years here, while i am the headmaster, i want it to be the importance of what i am telling you right now. the importance of kindness. sometimes i find it to be a very difficult lesson to teach and then i get fired up. (long pause.) just, just, damnit don’t be mean!“
he spoke his final words with such hearfelt passion i doubt that anyone in the audience will ever forget them. aside from the shock of hearing our headmaster say the word “damnit” in assembly was the conviction with which he spoke. part pleading part commanding part just being certain. certain that being kind is always, always, without fail, the way to proceed in any given situation.
a lot of us scroll the internets these days. and we read a lot of differing opinions and stories and strategies on life and parenting and gardening and everything you can ever imagine. it can be easy to think you know better than others how or why things should be done. and perhaps you do. it might mean a lot to share how you feel. that can be a good thing to do. but for the love of all things woowoo, and for the sake of all our fellow bloggers and gardeners, writers, parents, cooks, teachers just remember “damnit don’t be mean!”
if you pause for a moment to think you can usually find a nice way to say things. a kind way. a way to disagree with kindness in your heart.
that’s all for now folks. peace and blessings to all of you who read.
(for the record this post was “inspired” by the comments on phd in parenting’s most recent post.)
walk in beauty.
woo woo mama to the max.