We get to be a ripple in the water.
I was asked an important question yesterday by a good friend: “Do you ever worry that your activism will result in retribution against your kids?”
The short answer to that question is, simply, yes.
As a dad, I worry about that every single time I post anything. I worry about it every time I ask a question. I worry.
So, why do I do it? If I’m doing it for my kids as I claim, why take the risk?
The answer is just as simple as the question: my kids, especially my boy, are being put at risk by the decisions of the leadership of this school district. The risk is already there. I didn’t bring it. I didn’t create it. It wasn’t the result of my actions.
My kids, their education, their future, their lives, were at risk before I asked a single question. They were at risk before I wrote a single word.
That’s the system that we have now.
But still I worry.
I worry about collateral damage every time I post anything, and believe it or not, I think about every word I post in that light.
I worry that my actions might hurt another human being.
I even worry that my actions might hurt those whom I believe are seeking to hurt my kids.
While I realize that what I’m about to say is often considered heresy in this town, I am a pacifist. I don’t believe in war. I don’t believe that we can help perfect our world by fighting each other.
Yes, I’m that radical, liberal, hippy, freak that you’ve been warned about.
I think that change, true change, comes as a result of communication, connection, understanding and love.
But love is not the same thing as subservience. Love is not obsequiousness as the Huntsville City School board seems to believe.
Love means standing up when necessary.
Love is risk.
Love is speaking for those who don’t have a voice.
Our kids don’t have a voice in this system.
Our teachers don’t have a voice in this system.
Our instructional aides don’t have a voice in this system.
Even parents, tax-paying parents, don’t have a voice in this system.
Only those who fully and vocally agree with the superintendent’s actions and decisions have a voice.
I’m not conceited enough (I am conceited, though, just not enough) to believe that I can be a voice for all of those people.
But I can be a voice for my voiceless son who struggles to ask for juice when he’s thirsty.
I can be a voice for my daughter when she wonders why she’s having to spend so much time taking tests when she could be reading another book or writing another poem.
For those two, I can and should be a ripple in the water.
Despite the risk from those who might further threaten children (or teachers for that matter) when a dad dares to ask a question that the leadership of the district doesn’t like, we get to be a ripple in the water.
Making waves for the sole purpose of making waves is useless. In fact, it’s dangerous. As such, I try hard to avoid waves for their own purpose. (I’m sure there are many who disagree with me on this. This isn’t an exact science; that’s why I invite those who disagree with me to speak up. It helps me keep a sense of perspective.)
Our district, however, doesn’t value questions, challenges, or disagreement. Our superintendent values command and control above all things.
Command and Control aren’t words of praise. They aren’t words of love. Control is stagnation. When waters are controlled, they die, and all those living in those waters die as well.
But a ripple breathes life into stagnate waters. A ripple repudiates command and control.
And we get to be that ripple.
Yes, I do worry everyday about retribution. But I worry more about living in a world that threatens dissent.
And so I do my best to make specific and intentional ripples because with our “get to” comes responsibility.
So I’ll be that ripple. Despite the risk. Despite the threats.
Because I love my kids.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who aren’t afraid to make a ripple in this world as we try to perfect it.