Chicken Little

15 May

I have a friend who is a teacher and loves her work. However, her school administration isn’t supportive, and that has hurt her. She had a student who was aggressive, and bullying not only the other students, but her as well. She tried to work with him but it was useless. Fearing for her safety she went to her Principal, and explained the situation. She asked to bring the parents in to discuss the matter, but the principal flatly refused, and told her to work it out herself. She was disappointed in his response, but she had seen this behavior before. Her Principal seemed to be afraid of the students’ parents. He never wanted to call them or address behavior problems with them. One day the boy in my friend’s class pushed her off a step, and she suffered a fractured skull. The school paid for her medical expenses, but even then, refused to contact the parents, and told her not to either. She was very hurt, both physically and emotionally. In time her physical injuries have healed, but she is still hurt by her boss’s behavior. She is also worried about what will happen next.

I work in a large organization that adopts basically the same model as my friend’s school. Fear of lawsuits, and recrimination have created an environment where bad employees are not disciplined, and instead, when they cause trouble are moved to other departments . Of course, moving a problem never solves it. The leadership is afraid of problems with the union, legal complaints, and the additional expense from those, and other complications. So, instead of addressing the problem, they move it. It’s a reflection of where we are as a society, and an overall lack of courage.

Sadly, these are not uncommon stories today. Many are reluctant to address bad behavior. They decide instead to say nothing, and deal with the issue as best they can. In our litigious society where people sue others for ridiculous reasons, trying to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit is understandable. But when situations require correction, despite the risk, it needs to happen. If it doesn’t, it may lead to greater problems.

Each of us, every day, has the opportunity to set an example for excellence. We can choose the better path, and light the way for those who have gotten lost. We may not be able to change a whole mindset, but if we bravely choose the right, if we face each problem and address it appropriately, if we solve issues instead of pushing them around, others will notice. We can choose to address the problems we encounter, and set the standard for solving them instead of looking away. If we can turn the tide in our small area of influence, others will see the change for good, and may choose to address their problems too. Like dominoes falling, if we are diligent, one after the other, those around us may choose the better path. Each of us has more power to influence others than we realize. People watch us. They pay attention more than we think they do. So today, choose to be the difference. Choose to set the standard. And watch what happens.

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