So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933
This nameless, unreasoning terror has paralyzed a nation once again.
In less than a month, the fabric of the United States has started to unravel at a rate that seems unprecedented.
First, we had the mass murder of the nightclub patrons in Orlando.
Then, two black men were shot by police during what appeared to be routine questioning, triggering protests across the country against police violence.
Finally, five police officers were killed, seven more were wounded, and two civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time were injured. The 25-year-old shooter, a man who said he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers, is now dead.
First they blamed the Muslims, then the police, and finally the Black Lives Matter movement that was holding a rally where the police and civilians were shot.
As a Canadian, I can shake my head and tut-tut about the state of the United States of America, but we have our fair share of systemic racism here in Canada as well. We just have much stricter gun laws and an overall mindset that doesn’t argue for the godgiven right of all persons to own and carry automatic weapons just because somebody said we should a few hundred years. (Sweet Jesus, people. The founding fathers were talking about muskets, not AK-47’s. How hard is that to understand?)
It’s sickening and sad and terrifying to think that this is the world we have created for our children. It’s like we’re going backwards instead of forwards. And I blame it on one thing: fear.
People like Donald Trump are pouring lighter fluid on the fire of fear everyday. With every stupid, xenophobic, sexist, racist, homophobic tweet and sound bite, Trump and those like him, make that person who is already afraid of losing his job or going hungry that much more afraid and angry. And people who are angry and afraid, generally, don’t make good choices.
It’s natural to fear things we don’t understand. If you feel that your life is going down the toilet, it’s much easier to blame someone else, someone different from you, than it is to take responsibility for yourself and work to make things better.
Teachers alone can’t fix a society in crisis, but we can do our part to make sure the next generation is raised with more understanding, more compassion, and more strength.
We can do that by teaching them about the differences and similarities that exist between all people. We can help them realize and develop their ability for compassion and teach them to be brave enough to stand by their beliefs so that they can stand up for themselves and others. And we can empower them by giving them the tools they need to make intelligent, well thought out choices and decisions.
As teachers we can ensure that our students – ALL of our students – feel loved and respected everyday. We can cultivate an atmosphere in the classroom where our students support each other, not in spite of their differences, but because of them. We can show them that acts of kindness make us feel good and that being mean hurts us as much as it hurts the other person.
We can introduce our students to other cultures and sexual orientations, so that they can see that people are people and love is love. We need to do this so that they don’t grow up thinking that people who are different are to be feared or reviled. We must do this so that they don’t grow up thinking that the only answers to their problems are those which involve violence and hate.
Teachers can’t change what’s happening today, but we can influence what happens tomorrow. We can educate our students about the world and the people in it and by doing so, rid them of the fear that is so pervasive in our world today.
By doing this, we can show them that there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Coming September 2016 – Teaching with Humour, Compassion and Conviction – Helping Our Students become literate, considerate, passionate human beings. Heather Hollis (aka: SuburbanPrincessTeacher)
Published by: Pembroke Publishers.