Day by Day

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Add-on to the Tie-in

OK, so Friday I spoke about my high school experience. And after reading it a few times over, I realized that people could take the post as if I was bragging about what I did in high school. Kinda like, "Oh yeah Dave, you thought you were a badass, didn't you?"

That's not the point I was trying to make. Let me expound a bit in this post, since the other post is quite long enough for my taste.

As I explained, I learned most of my violent behavior as a defense mechanism in high school. Kick enough ass, and people leave you alone. The problem with that is once you graduate and move into the real world, the people you meet are nothing like the idiots, assholes and predators in high school. Once I graduated, I went out into the world and found myself at a severe disadvantage to everyone else. While most people had eventually learned to deal with difficulty or a problem by acting logically, I had learned to deal with any problem with violence. And it took me YEARS to unlearn the lessons I had picked up. For years, I was damn near un-promotable. Who wants to promote a raving lunatic with a violence fetish? My work would be fine. I could handle responsibility. What I could not do at that time was learn to respond to hostility with anything other than overwhelming violence. When someone calls you a dirty name, you do NOT whip out the biggest gun you have and blow them to Kingdom Come. But that's what I was doing, metaphorically speaking.

And I'm still trying to unlearn those lessons, well over a decade since I left that particular jungle. It's taken years and the patience of God only knows how many people to bring me to the point where I don't jump up and pound someone for looking at me wrong. It's hurt my professional life in the past. It's hurt my personal life. And it's something that I struggle with to this very day. I thank God for the day that my wife decided she could put up with my bullshit, because she's the most calming influence in my life, and for some reason she was silly enough to say "I Do". But even she will tell you that I have a horrendous temper, and there has been plenty of times where she's looked at me with exasperation because I've gone off half-cocked and done something stupid.

I often think to myself what my life would have been like if I hadn't been forced into that school. My first years were in a Catholic school, and I excelled. But once I got into a public school after my father retired from the military, things just went downhill. It was hell. Here's something I've told my folks that they just don't get:

I hated school. I flat out hated it. I would never go back. I didn't go back for any reunions. I probably never will, unless it's to go laugh at the people who made my life a living hell for four years. And next to the day I got married, the happiest day in my life was when I graduated and knew that I would never be forced into that building against my will EVER AGAIN.

I understand the reasoning of students who went on a shooting spree at Columbine. Is that a horrible thing to say? Perhaps. But I understand why they did what they did, even while I cannot excuse it. At some point, humans will break. They can only deal with so much. So much harassment, so much being picked on, so much being beaten. In the real world, should someone try to beat you down, you have several options. You have no real options in high school, where moral equivalency and the rot of the NEA have made it impossible to deal with abusers and predators without being punished yourself. In a workplace, you can say "I quit!". In public, you can walk away. But you can't run from someone when they know where you have to be and when you have to be there. It's like tossing a snake into a cage of mice and telling the mice "Now, find a way to deal with the snake!"

It will not work.

It doesn't work. It's failing. It's failing our students, it's failing the parents to mistakenly believe that public school is doing some good, and it's failing the public at large by turning out people who cannot deal with the real world once they graduate. You cannot learn when you have to be concerned about protecting yourself for twelve hours. When it's fight or flight, you don't have time to deal with algebra, OK?

I consider my high school experience to be a detriment to my life, not a boon. And I daresay that many people will agree with me. I applaud the du Toit's for homeschooling their kids, because that is what will give those kids the best chance at making a decent life for themselves. And I honestly wish that my parents had done the same thing.

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