Saturday, September 5, 2009
Governor Palin's support continues to grow, which completely baffles those who never understood her support to begin with. After the media malpractice, after the bogus ethics complaints, even after Levi Johnston, she remains strong when much weaker souls would have been laid to rest by now. How is that possible? Keep reading.
I will always remember the first time a student came to my defense in class. Somebody said something disrespectful, and, before I could open my mouth, someone else said, "Don't be talking to Miss Ross like that!" Silence followed. That was the end of that--until the next time, of course.
That's when you know you've got it.
Now, I don't actually need my students to stand up for me because I do pretty well by myself. In fact, it's a good thing I didn't get a chance to respond--good for the student who uttered the disrespectful comment, that is. I don't take a lot of mess, nor do I have to. Overall my students have always loved and respected me, and I have very few behavioral problems. The reasons, I believe, are simple: I love and respect them first, they think I'm cool, and I can "bust 'em down" in basketball. That's my recipe for success! I'll add to that one more ingredient: I was in a staffing with a parent who relayed the story of why his child said he never gave me trouble, though he gave other teachers trouble. According to this parent, his son said, "'Cause Miss Ross will knock me out!" Nice mix of respect and fear there, I suppose (though I'd never do that!). I say all that to say I can clearly handle myself.
True authority, however, is revealed when I don't have to.
To this day, I have no recollection of what the first student uttered, just that he was put in his place rather quickly by his classmate. Now, I don't advocate students being aggressive with other students, but I do believe that harmless positive peer pressure goes a long way. Because one student came to my aid, I could get on with the business at hand without taking the time to deal with nonsense, saving myself for bigger issues that really need my attention.
I was thinking of this in light of Governor Palin. Some don't understand why so many of us speak up and fight back when we hear her being smeared by the likes of the mainstream media, anklebiters on the Left and the Right, and even her daughter's ex-fiance'. "What's with all these people," some say, "these bloggers, these activists, these supporters, and why won't Palin herself address every allegation thrown at her?" We all know she can handle herself, so why doesn't she deal with every single issue? The answer is simple: she doesn't have to.
See, most of the attacks against Governor Palin are like the comment in my classroom: distractions meant to take her attention from what's important, slurs and accusations intended to sting and bite, and all-out attacks with the hopes of sparking a fiery retort so the process can continue. And for what? To wear her down.
Each year I get new students, several of whom would say in a heartbeat, "We got your back, Miss Ross." Now, they know good and well I'm no pushover and certainly no punk. However, dealing with every individual about every comment is a waste of everyone's time, and it doesn't accomplish anything. Students who speak up, out of respect for who I am and what I represent, allow me to just keep on steppin'-- never missing a beat, never being sidetracked, never wasting energy.
Then, when something big arises, I'll use that reserved energy to deal with it.
Governor Palin, too, has plenty of opportunities to decide to speak or to be silent, to defend herself or to keep on steppin'. More often than not, wisdom tells her to keep on steppin'--and that's when we step up. That, I suppose, is part and parcel of the "online footprint" first written about here and then commented on here and here. She doesn't need to ask anyone to have her back. Before she turns around, we're already there--just as my student addressed his peer before I could even open my mouth. We're there on Twitter, on Facebook, on our blogs, on talk radio. Everywhere you turn, we're there, so she doesn't have to fight every single battle because we're fighting for her.
Again, that's true authority. That's when you've got it, and today, more than ever, public servants need it--and they need a whole lot of it. The more we can step in the ring and throw some punches and block some unfair hits for them--and the more of us who do so--the more strength people like Governor Palin can reserve for the bigger battles.