Since 1989, I have taught high school music. During that time, I have been at five public schools and one independent school. I have wisdom about education. Plenty of stories that you can read in my book CONDUCTING MY LIFE. I am attempting to remember a time when chanting USA was considered offensive. I really cannot remember a time when that was the case or even when it became offensive. Apparently, it is.
I live close to Folsom, California. Folsom, at one time, was a relatively “conservative” community and, frankly, I would expect Folsom to chant “USA.” The high school’s colors are: red, white and blue. What has happened in the last fifteen to twenty years is happening all over California and therefore, will happen all over our country? I really feel there is a wicked movement to erode the love for our nation. We are turning on ourselves and we can see it with stories such as this one. Yet, there is a “real” issue. Possibly a “greater” issue.
The real issue is not chanting “USA.” No. The real issue is what the Folsom High School principal said, From the article: “She told students and parents that sometimes “We can communicate an unintended message.” This “unintended message” is part of the erosion of our society: being held accountable for another’s feelings of our messages / our actions. I cannot tell you enough how much I detest, “You (Mr. Everts) make me feel __________.” Really. I cannot stand it. I have no desire to be responsible for how you feel. Sure. Having a student say, “Mr. Everts, you make me feel great” is wonderful, but I cannot only appreciate that moment because it makes me feel good. Because, I refuse to be responsible for, “Mr. Everts, you make me feel like crap.” No. Literally, I do not cause your feelings. I do not even want an “ounce” of that power over you.
We need to get to our children, as soon as possible, to train them to manage their feelings and not turn them over to others or hand their emotions to others. Chanting “USA” is offensive because the students have been taught that their being offended is an “appropriate response.” What? NO! Instead, tell the students how they feel when they hear “USA” or anything is COMPLETELY HIS / HER CHOICE!! Not whether their response / emotion is “appropriate.” A great topic for high school: HOW COME YOU ARE OFFENDED BY OTHERS WHO CHANT “USA?” I believe in a Rabbi’s manner of teaching; ask questions. Continue to ask our students / your children questions. Great question: How come you are offended when you hear your peers chant “USA?”
Our children are being taught their feelings are in the hands of others. When a person says something you disagree with, it is that person’s fault that you hurt. Huh? How does that other person even know you are offended? So, the students who chanted “USA” did so to specifically to offend you or hurt you? Really? Come on! Please do not teach your children to NOT chant “USA” because you may offend someone. Disclaimer: From the article, “District officials say they want to make clear that there is no ban on chanting USA.” I will add the word, “Yet.” We could see times when it is appropriate and inappropriate to chant “USA.” In a sense, that is close to a “ban.” Will limit that “freedom” to chant, “USA.”
“School officials worry the chants could come across as intolerant and offensive to some, but parents see it differently, as an expression of pride and acceptance.” Again, an example of folks thinking too much about others’ choices of what is “intolerant, offensive, pride and acceptance.” And here is the other issue, “some.” So, “some” see it as a “bad thing,” it must be stopped for all? Stopped based on another’s emotion. Think about that world we are creating.
In the end, there are too many people in our world who manipulate others through “you make me feel.” I want us to return to a society where we own every choice we make, including our emotions. Return to actions create emotions. Yes. There are times when I “lose control.” When a person dies: I CRY. Lose control. When a person hurts a friend: I GET ANGRY. Lose control. BUT, IN THE END… I am totally responsible for that loss of control. I don’t blame the person’s death for me being in a bad mood. I don’t blame the person who hurt my friend for me being a jerk.
- How come your choice of what offends you outweighs my feelings and I am the one that is supposed to change?
- How come your choice of what offends you is good or “morally–right” and others who differ from you are bad and should be “punished” / “admonished?”
- How come “cultural diversity day” is embraced and “patriot day” is offensive?
The common answer for all these questions: it is your choice to be offended and I refuse to be held accountable for your choice to be offended.