In the recent months two of my children moved away from Portland with their wives. Christina and I took time during our travels to visit them in their new locations. This gave us time to reconnect, share news, and reminisce about the past.
One of our sons shared with us concerning what he saw as an injustice when he was in school. One of the more rowdy kids spat spit-wads on the ceiling of the bathroom. Each day one of the teachers would have to clean it up. When we faced the classroom of about 15 children within the age range of 8 till 10 about the issue, no-one would say a thing. Yet it was evident that someone from that group left spit-wads on the ceiling of the bathroom. I must mention here that we are not talking about public, but a homeschool co-op. School was held in a house. I must also snicker here at the benignity of this crime when compared with what public school go through today. Faced with this situation the teacher in charge decided that all the kids in this class should be punished.
Our son hadn’t kept strong bitterness about it but he still felt it was wrong. He then proceeded to tell us that there was a “don’t tattle-tell” culture in the class. This culture was very strong and the pupils were actually afraid to tell on their wayward classmates. My son felt felt that the guilty got away with it and the others were punished while no lesson was learned.
I thought about this a bit later. It made me think about the gang mentality we see in the heart of some of our American inner cities, especially these days in Chicago. People complain about crime but they give in to fear and do not report. As such, like an abused woman often does, they protect the guilty and crime continues. But the law actually says that he who is witness to a crime but doesn’t report it becomes an accomplice to that crime, therefore the teacher in my previous story was right to punish all those kids who knew the guilty party but did not report.
This culture does not only exist in school or with inner-city gangs. I have witnessed organisations, groups, companies, societies, associations, churches who also have a culture of division between the managerial branch and the rest of the associates; a culture of presenting a good front to the “boss,” but where the mice play as soon as the cat is away. Either side could be to blame for that, but it is certainly unhealthy and goes against growth, maturation, and efficiency.
Our lives are made up of tests about truth, honesty, and integrity. The quicker we learn to not respond to the fear imposed by bullies, face the wrong and stand for the right no matter what the cost, the better off we’ll be. The first test about these things could be about spit-wads on a bathroom ceiling.
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