Sunday, January 7, 2018

Who's Afraid of Who? 4 Thoughts on Fear

A friend posted this memory on Facebook and I thought it has some universal connections worth exploring.

We all live in a network with others.
This quote depicts a chain of connection:teacher→principal→superintendent→school board→parents. It implies that parents control everything and everyone within that chain because it flows in one direction. However, we ALL live in multi-directional relationship with each other, and those relationships form webs, similar to this visual.

Agreeing that parents are a huge influence in this chain, they are only a part of a larger web. Parents, teachers, administrators and principals are community members and whether we see it or not, ALL community members have an interest and role in what goes on in our schools (and in all our other communal endeavors). Our communal work guides what we have now and what we and our children will have in the future. All members should have an understanding of and involvement in their community abilities, goals and needs.

Being driven by fear is real but is not the only option.
While there’s some error in the visual’s message on one-direction flow of behaviors, it nailed the mark on how our responses to others can be guided by fear. Every single person alive today has experienced fear and its influence. Fear of getting fat stops us from eating a whole pie. Fear of alienating a spouse stops us from snapping viciously when we are frustrated.

However, while we all feel fear, we do not need to be controlled by it. As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”. If we can step through our fear (or jump, as this picture represents), we can have the opportunity for more and feel the thrill of accomplishing what we thought was impossible.

Fear = distrust.

When I first read this post, I immediately wanted to reply that it’s not that the kids aren’t afraid of anyone, they just don't trust anyone. All the parenting books agree that kids want and deserve an understandable structure to live within. Children’s Hospital Colorado outlines The Top 8 Things Every Kid Needs and the top 3 are:

  • Security
  • Stability
  • Consistency
When children don’t get these things regularly, a very understandable response is to put up walls. They want to protect themselves using what means they have before them.

Kids aren’t blind to reality. Whether it’s on their own street, online or in the news, they see the disconnects between the links in their webs. When we, their community, are all splitting up Us vs Them or Right vs Wrong in the vast number of horrible ways we do, they can't make sense of it or find a consistent response they can successfully fall back on.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are teachers whose reality fits that first visual, both in the US and well beyond its borders. From my experiences and in my reading, I’ve discovered places suffering within this type of fear-based environment and others where people are living as vital nodes within their overall community’s web.

We can ALL work toward a better reality. We probably will never get it right 100%. New trials and tribulations will always arise. However, we can get to a better place by trying together.

What are your personal truths? Who can you reach out to and help? Where can you go for support? When do you feel the deepest sense of community? What could you do to step beyond those zones?

Best wishes to you as we step a bit less fearfully forward into tomorrow!

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