Monday, October 01, 2012

Spirit and intent

Those are words that are thrown around a lot in the military, although rarely do we stop long enough to answer the question. What is the spirit and intent of a rule? For example, Air Force students aren't supposed to speak in the hallway. They are to keep right and walk in a single file silently. Is the rule to make them quiet specifically? What is the spirit and intent of the rule? It is there to make sure they don't disturb classes in session. That's its purpose. So, on my shift, if they're walking quietly and chatting in a way that is not disruptive I think the spirit and intent is upheld. That's important in my book. It keeps us from doing things because something, somewhere says so. It forces us to examine the deeper meaning and importance of it all.

There is a new outrage floating around on Facebook and those that are pissed off about it haven't taken a minute to examine the spirit and intent of the whole thing. I saw it yesterday and it got heated, but cooled down quickly. Apparently the negativity was deferred because it's back. Let's take a look at the picture.

"I pooped in the shower and daddy had to clean it up. I hereby sign this as permission to use in my yearbook senior year."
I have seen all kinds of reactions from people. Many of them laugh at it, but there is a large contingent of people that think this guy should be ashamed of himself for taking the picture, more so for putting it on Facebook and some think that if he's the kind of dad to do this, he should lose his child because that mentality obviously makes him unfit.

First of all, the girl is laughing. This is all in good fun. Look at it, what kind if idiot would think that writing a contract for a young kid like that would mean it's official? The whole think reeks of silliness. I don't think he's even trying to teach a lesson here. And maybe he will put it in the yearbook, but I doubt it. If the kid is 18, graduating from high school, what kind of negative effect would this picture have in a yearbook? A little embarrassment. Everyone is embarrassed by every baby picture that goes in a yearbook anyway.

When I was an adolescent, about 12 years old, I had an embarrassing moment in front of some family that I was meeting for the very first time. My father teased about it and still brings it up whenever we see them or whenever he's reminded of it, or whenever he simply wants to break my chops about something. Is he bullying me? Of course not. He's the best father a boy could have had. We are close, knit and loving. We joke, we tease, we talk, we share. We don't take life too seriously. So, over 20 years after I farted at the dinner table, he still mentions it and cracks up, I still shake my head and my mother says, "Oh poor Jason. He was so embarrassed." Then we all laugh and go on about our business. Life is serious enough. Laugh at the silly parts of it.

All of the negative comments I've seen about this just vilify the father for being a bad parent, a bully and everything else. Everyone needs to get off their perfect parent soapbox for a minute. Ever curse in front of your young, impressionably child? Ever yell a little too loud at them in public when they're acting up? Have to been there for them immediately at every turn? Never told them to wait when they needed something? Hit them when they're bad?

Look, everyone can be better at everything. Friendships, relationships, parenting, etc. You've made mistakes so quit throwing rocks at this guy, especially when you have NO idea what he meant by this. However, there are some context clues here.

  1. A young girl smiling is one. 
  2. A signature too young to be discernible, let alone contractual. 
  3. An age so far off from when the "sentence is to be served" that he can't possibly hold this over her head all those years.
  4. And he took the time to write it, photo it, and post it. How angry do you think he was to do all of that? Facebook is not my first choice when I'm pissed off about something.
So... spirit and intent. A joke. Let's focus on that instead of vilifying a man, nay a complete stranger, to make us feel better about our own shortcomings. You don't even know this man and some of you are calling for his kid to be taken away. At the least he should be ashamed. You should be ashamed for passing judgment on a single out of context photo that is likely just a joke.

Edit: As I wrote this I got off track and forgot about another item that I wanted to mention along the way. We are motivated by many things, not the least of which is motivation by fear of failure. Nobody wants to be last. Nobody wants to go unchosen. Nobody wants to be the only person without something. It's why we are constantly trying to keep up with one another. On the night before an exam, I ask my students if they are nervous. They more scared they are, the happier I am. That means they are going to study harder. I know the test, I know the material they were given, I watched them the whole time. As a result, I know who is nervous, but well prepared and who will benefit from studying. Do you know that, statistically speaking, the students who are the most scared the night before, do the best on the test? The confident ones, often falter. The ones who are scared, take that to heart and buckle down and study. Motivation by fear of failure. It is unhealthy to be our ONLY motivator, but not A motivator. Signs like these teach lessons. It's no different than time out or getting put in the corner like when I was a kid. Reinforce good things positively and bad things negatively. People will put a lot of work into not getting singled out. So will this shame sign keep on shaming her? No way. She's too young to understand it fully and it's a joke, but even if she did, after a couple of days the fanfare dies down, the Facebook community moves onto its next cause du jour and she takes away a lesson. Case closed.

1 comment:

Alex Alex said...

Some people are so goddamned touchy-feely. Grow a brain and realize the whole picture and "contract" were meant as humor! Jesus!