Just when you think things are getting better…

About 5 years ago, I worked for a group that promoted a particularly effective reading program for youngsters who were struggling to learn to read. They had decades worth of data that proved their system worked.

However, there are two opposing theories on how kids should learn to read. Academics in the field of reading fight like rabid dogs over these theories. It’s political, too, because both groups want to convince the government that their approach is the best. There’s a lot of money and influence to be had.

Anyway, after years of quietly earnest efforts to convince teachers of the merits of their program based on the data they’d accumulated, the people I worked for suddenly found themselves embroiled in a nasty, mud-slinging political fight. Suddenly it was all about cost-savings and powerful friendships, instead of learning curves and student success. One day in the middle of it all, my boss sighed, “I never expected to become an activist at my age!”

Now when I see a discussion brewing about gun control, or about misogyny, I sigh.

I never expected to become an activist at my age, either, but it’s getting harder and harder to avoid sticking up for what I believe in. My temper is growing shorter and my tolerance for pig-headed ignorance is waning fast.

Guns: Nobody needs them. If someone wants to practice target shooting, let them go to a range and shoot, then leave their guns locked up in a vault there. As for the Second Amendment? Life has changed a lot since the Revolutionary War. If you want to defend yourself against tyranny, your best weapon nowadays is a computer, not a gun.

Misogyny: I’m shocked by the hatred that gets directed at women when they point out that the present patriarchal system is wrong. Is our society so broken that people aren’t allowed to express an opinion without getting threats of death and mutilation?  Furthermore, people shouldn’t be forced to live their lives by arbitrary rules just because they happened to be born male or female. If they’re not hurting anybody, why is it such a difficult thing to just let people be themselves?

When I was younger, I thought that by now I’d find myself living in a more civilized, more tolerant society. But I guess I was wrong.


6 thoughts on “Just when you think things are getting better…

    • On the one hand, I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling this way. On the other hand, I’m very sorry that anyone has to feel this way. It’s discouraging.

      • lol, yeah it is, when you consider that I’ve worked in education my entire adult life. I *do* actually think some things are changing — ideas about gender roles in particular — based on my ongoing exposure to the 18-24 crowd. But it’s slower than I want it to be.

  1. I once listened to an interview on NPR with an author who’d written a book about fundamentalist Muslims. He said that the world was changing too rapidly, and that made the fundamentalists cling even more tightly to the rigid beliefs they held. It made them even more vitriolic in defense of their position.
    I suppose that applies to anyone with rigid beliefs — change of any kind is so threatening they can’t stand it.
    Another old boss of mine, a public school superintendent, used to say that “we have to learn to live with paradox and ambiguity.” Not everyone can do that, it seems.

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