Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I feel sad and confused tonight. Bob talks about the kids he's teaching - fifth graders, and one of the main themes is selfishness and rudeness. Kids mock Bob and each other - say cruel things, "have to be watched like a hawk" or they steal things from each other or destroy books and pencils. They are unwilling to put up with the boredome of sitting quietly and reading while other kids finish tests. They have to have fun all the time. Being bored, ever, is not acceptable. They don't seem to be reversing roles, exercising empathy very much at all. I know theat many of these kids have tough stories and I know they are young enough that they still need to be taught right from wrong - but the tone just seems off and it scares me to be living in a world in which such selfishness is considered a necessary evil in fifth graders. I see it in other places too - especially with drivers. People in cars don't meet my eyes and smile as often as they used to when I come to an intersection on foot. Generally now, if I meet a driver's eyes, he or she just goes through the intersection. I think I remember a time, not too many years ago when there was more interplay, more connection, whoever actually went first. I want a gentler world. I'm willing to take the time to be gentler with others, to listen and watch and care. Sometimes it seems like the willingness is not reciprocal.