Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dissonance in Teaching

For the month of November we are learning about Emergencies - who to call, how to call, what to do. We are packing up our first-aid kits and making sure our fire alarms and extinguishers work. We are talking about the people who help keep us safe - paramedics, fire fighters, and police officers.
This is what we're teaching... isn't it nice?

Not for "school", but just in the course of life, our family is busy with our local Occupy Movement. We aren't camped out, but we march, make signs, donate food, and Papa-Bug works down at the Occupation a couple times each week. We taught the kids that we, the people, are asking the banks to share because they aren't sharing.

For the record: I am very aware that my message is a drastic simplification of a wondrously complex issue, but I wanted 5-year old Brother-Bug to have something he could understand.

But to the real issue. I feel two-faced on my teaching right now, as I watch the Occupy Movement unfold across the country.

I'm teaching that the police are there to protect and serve citizens. That he should call the police if he is in trouble, that they will help him. That police are safe people.
This is not nice at all. But it's not staged like the previous photo...

A hundred miles north of us, one of our dearest friends has been facing lines of riot police, she is armed with her words and her sense of justice. The police are armed with batons and more. Force is used indiscriminately against the citizens that the police said they would protect and serve. Police drag an ASL translator into the street, grievously injuring an already fragile back, ignoring his cries as he pleads for a medic.

I find it hard to teach my son to seek out the police, when it is so clear that they are there to protect and serve as long as you do what they say, regardless of your rights. As long as you keep your head down, follow the rules, and don't speak up, you can trust them to help you.

I feel that last rant does a disservice to the many men and women in uniform who have lovingly assisted a lost hold, or come to the aid of a panicked mother's call. I just... have a hard time feeling truthful as I watch the violence unfold on one source, and read about our friendly police with Brother-Bug on another source.

And I just don't know what to do, or how to go about honestly teaching this. Do you?


  1. This...is a hard one.
    Brother older still waves at the police when we are walking down the street and we happen to intersect or lock eyes with them, as the jail is near the Co-op this happens often.
    I didn't worry about it too much when he was younger.

    These past few years however(especially these past 2 years after his cop/authority hating BD came into our lives) we talk about how people are people no matter what. There are always people who aren't what they say they are. And there will always be people who do things for their own gain. Some will even go to the lengths of hurting others to get what they want. Others blindly follow orders. They will do things they know is not right because there boss told them to. Or maybe they think it is right because freedom and justice means something different to them.

    You are the right thing for your 5 year to ask for help when there's an emergency. This is an important skill to have. If you need some "heart relief" focus on it as a skill. This is a skill!

    Do you remember the first time you had to call the police for help? Well, you were probably great at it. Me, not so much. I fumble with the phone buttons and mumbled for help. I was raised to fear cops and all that fear came rushing through me when I picked up that phone.
    I knew that I did not want to raise my children that way.

    Some skills are needed in this country, like being able to ask for authoritative help.

  2. I am having the same problem. It's hard to tell your child to trust the police, but also fear them!