Society requires a certain degree of conformity. We seem to be in a place of great tension right now as we define and reshape our view of “normal”. The proverbial “square peg” in a round hole has come to define many people who used to believe that their view of the world was the “normal” one and they/we are presently being increasingly called out by the “establishment” as needing to conform. The notion of conformity has been wielded by those who view themselves as the disenfranchised, not realizing they themselves are the ones doing the disenfranchising.
I read this morning on the Chicks on the Right page that a public school is considering the petition from a student to terminate its ban on chapstick. Yep, chapstick. The rationale the school gave was the possibility of chapstick being shared and spreading disease. Again, yep, chapstick. I’m not sure if they did any studies to show if shared chapstick actually spreads disease, but it certainly sounds like one of those things that your mother told you would happen and it is a little bit gross.
It begs the question though, does the school really have THIS much responsibility to determine and dictate the behavior of our kids? The answer is of course, they have as much authority as we have given them. I do love that the girl in that story was taking on the school and making an effort to get the rule changed. I understand that, entering through the front door, following the procedures and giving the school board the deference of the governing body that it is. I wouldn’t have done it that way, but kudos to her. Myself, I would have had a hard time being respectful of such a stupid and irrational rule, and I would have challenged it by ignoring it. If my kids needed chapstick and it was banned at school, I would have sent it anyway. I really am not sure if that makes me a bad person or pain in the ass, but I still believe and always will, that our entire society and the order therein, is based upon the consent of the governed. The more we fight against ridiculousness, the more power we give it. We have to be “about” bigger things than chapstick. If I had been, as a parent, called on the carpet about this decision to send my kid to school with a banned substance, I would explain that there was a medical necessity that trumped the rationale of the rule. In general, pure logic and reasoning has yielded me fair results in the school system, and I have managed to get two kids nearly through the process.
My oldest child was lamenting yesterday about the ineptness and incompetence of college professors. I pointed out that this is precisely the function of college and professors, to confront you with points of view that you may choose not to adhere to. You can conform or rebel in both thoughts and action, but the point is in the provocation. Idiot professors certainly have a way of provoking you to thought and action. Moreover, officials may tell you that chapstick is a disease bearing nuisance but only you can decide in your mind whether you believe that or believe your own experience in which chapstick was your savior from painfully cracked and broken lips on a cold winter day.
I had another opportunity to speak to the administration at a local Yorba Linda school yesterday. It is an opportunity I have been afforded on a pretty regular basis over the past 13 years. Because I have raised and birthed (this is not a nature vs. nurture debate, that is a whole ‘nother blog!) kids who are notorious “square pegs”, these arbiters of the “round holes” have need of pretty regular contact with me. All good, we have managed to think through some things, resolve and theorize these rules and policies to the satisfaction, of well, usually neither of us, but well, we move on and get through it. I have never managed to get any rules or policies changed but I have managed to garner some respect for my views and the unique “shape” of my kid. I will never stop being an advocate for those who are “square pegs” because the “round holes” should be fluid enough to make room for everyone. Adherence to myopic and arbitrary rules does not a person of great character make. Great character is about being respectful and caring of the needs of others, not being abrasive, abusive and of course, not spreading communicable diseases with willy nilly sharing of chapstick, but if at all possible, rules and minutia should not prohibit a kid from being who they are, the best they can be and enjoying and being safe in the process.
“All created equal” and “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”, seem to anticipate this kind of differentiation and myriad uniqueness. We should be embracing it and not quashing it. I’m going to keep embracing and promoting that, whether any establishment is or not.
So, kids, if you need chapstick and it helps you concentrate and be a better student, by all means, bring it to school. You can still be charming and cooperative with your teacher and the educational system, but maybe, bring a note from Mom or a doctor, and don’t share it with eighteen people who have communicable diseases. Be yourself, ignore your college professors when they are communists or just ordinary idiots. You don’t have to point out how unintelligent they are, but you don’t have to actually take in and take on anything they say either.
There is room for all of us. Tyranny of the majority is something our founding fathers planned for and made concessions for when it might occur. The same principle applies down to the most local parts of our society. We are not slaves to the opinions and mandates of minute behavior modifying ridiculousness, but we also don’t have to get into an uproar over them. Move forward in the confidence of who you are, square peg, which have been and will continue to be, the foundation of a great society.