Saturday, October 9, 2010


WHILE DIRECTING TRAFFIC in a crowded school parking lot, the principal halts traffic in one direction so that cross traffic may pass. The woman driving the first car asked to wait, guns past the school official and offers him a middle finger salute. Her children are strapped into the back seat.

Rounding the corner from the drive-thru window at the local Starbucks, a driver tosses a drink carrier from the window into the ice plant. “That’s littering,” he is told by a customer. “Hey,” he said, “They don’t provide an accessible trash container.” “So?” The situation deteriorates into profanity as his wife and children watch.

A parent refuses to allow his child to attend social studies class if any mention of Islam is to be offered during the state-sanctioned teaching of comparative religions. The parent tells the student to stand up and walk out of class if the subject comes up. “I’ll take this to the Board of Education!” the parent threatens.

BULLYING, AND ITS DEVASTATING EFFECTS, has, again gained national attention. And we immediately focus on what we should do to or for our kids to prevent it. Here’s a different thought: We will not stop bullying in our children until we call adult bullies on their behavior. People will behave stupidly so long as we allow them to.

When the principal – who happened to be me – recounted the incident in the parking lot in a school newsletter, two mothers quietly came in to the school office, independently, to apologize for their actions in the parking lot. Neither was the individual who I saw flipping me off. Still neither will probably do it again.

As the driver at Starbucks pointed to me for interceding saying, “F--- off, pal. She’s the one who’s giving me s---!” I picked up the carrier and stuffed it in the available garbage can. (Not, perhaps, where I might have liked to stuff it.) The driver knows he got caught. Maybe, in the future, he’ll think twice.

The school parent’s child must be served in the public schools regardless of handicap or behavioral issues, but the school is under no obligation to change the state sanctioned curriculum to suit the narrow focus of one individual. This parent should be told to take the child elsewhere. “Please get an attorney, dad." (The school district will win this one.)

THE CHURCH OF THE OPEN ROAD is deeply troubled by the stupid among us, because the stupid among us:
  • Vote
  • Drive automobiles
  • Can own firearms, but mostly because they
  • Have children.

If we gently remind the stupid among our adult generation that their behavior is offensive or out of line – and if we do it in a manner that doesn’t prompt us to lower ourselves to their level of stupidness – perhaps we will contribute to a subsequent generation of citizens that can overcome the self-centeredness, aggressiveness, abusiveness and bullying they unfortunately see in their own homes.

© 2010
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. VBM: Or bullying by the powerful of the powerless, whether an individual, a group or a nation.

  2. PA: Thanks for writing this article, Dave!

  3. Thanks. This one's been bubbling in me for a while. Came to a head this morning over at Starbucks.

    Pass it around, folks. I'm real tired of the bullying issue being everybody else's problem.

  4. CB I've definitely noticed the lack of decorum increasing over the years. I'm working so hard to teach the little guys to be respectful!

  5. PA: Anyone who has read my posts know that I am not a 'religious' person (spiritual, yes) but I AM a proud member of the Church of the Open Road. The only church I would ever belong to ;)

  6. Sarah Silverman wonders why we should be shocked when teenagers who are gay are bullied (to death) by peers. After all, she suggests, loyal, productive, honorable, patriotic soldiers and sailors are bullied out of military service simply because they are gay.

    She makes an excellent point.

  7. DH: So if doing the right thing is not convenient, doing the wrong thing is OK? Guess that says a lot about our culture or lack thereof...

  8. Unfortunately, we are living in a society that is out to do what is best for themselves, and they have lost concern for anyone or anything else. Greed and competition is what the children are learning through the unfortunate actions of adults. These children should be learning how to work together and value one another. Finding new and innovated ways to utilize each other in groups. Educators play a vital role in teaching this to their students. However, some educators, coaches, and parents choose to use their power in the wrong way!
    ~Actions speak louder than words.

  9. Power, or one's personal perception of it, and the misuse of that power, is a foundational element to this problem. It is not limited to parents, educators and coaches - many of whom succumb to power's intoxication; but it is also seen in members of the ministry (current example: Westboro Baptist Church); members of Congress (you pick your example); and guys tailgating in (strictly for example) Dodge Ram "Power-wagons" on the freeway.

    Folks: we've got a problem in America - and it's us. Unless we call folks on their reprehensible behavior, they'll continue to behave reprehensibly. And so will their kids. But only because we let 'em.

  10. Well written. You captured the root of the problem. Adults need to behave and set an example to break the cycle. We all need to be accountable for our own behavior, and we need to hold others accountable as well.

  11. The greatest respect and appreciation for the work you do as an educator....hardest job in world next to parenting....on second thought get everyones mistakes....
    the world is changed by one act at time....either good or bad.

  12. Hey Dave - good post. Great advertisement for my resilience program!