Weapons of mass distraction
Apr 09, 2008 | 430 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I recently edited a student paper that had an interesting mistake. The essay was about weapons of mass destruction but the student evidently used spell check and didn’t proofread. His essay read, “We need to be able to defend ourselves against weapons of mass distraction.”

How true, I thought. The destruction of any society can be more thoroughly accomplished from within than from without... and all it takes is being distracted from more important things.

I hesitate to give examples for fear of offending; however, un-illustrated principles are soon forgotten, so I will give brief sketches, knowing that the reader will have their own experiences to draw from to complete the picture.

I have a grandson who began kindergarten last year. He was excited about going to school and loved show and tell. One morning he took a keychain that belonged to his dad for show and tell.

Unfortunately, he did not tell his dad he was taking it, and the keychain happened to have a replica of an Old West pistol hanging from it. Though it was barely an inch long and molded out of a lightweight metal, he was suspended from kindergarten for a week for bringing a gun to school.

Of course, our society is into zero tolerance and setting examples, and this is a valuable lesson for all the other children in the classroom to have learned, isn’t it?

Our grandson certainly learned a few things. He learned that school is an unforgiving place where there is no room for mistakes.

His experience changed his personality. Despite his parent’s attempts to help him “get past it”, his excitement for school was replaced by dread; his trust in a teacher was replaced by doubt and fear; his desire to learn suffocated by these overriding emotions.

I dare suggest that rather than feeling safer because of the disciplinary action, the other children in the classroom might have felt more insecure.

Surely they wondered what would happen if they unknowingly crossed a line and did something unacceptable; would they become societal outcasts? Someone forgot when we lose our compassion we lose our humanity.

The “weapon” in this story had no potential for harm. The reaction to the weapon may have caused irreparable harm.

On a larger scale, it may be well to illustrate with another example. In an effort to push scholastics (which is a good thing, right?) many elementary schools have pushed out music, art, P.E., and even recess. These courses are deemed luxuries, but perhaps the clamor for academic achievement has become counterproductive.

Have we become so distracted by our failures that we have lost sight of our overall successes? We are all involved in a learning process; we are all being educated every day. Have the prevailing winds of societal mores and standards distracted us from what is most important?

Have jobs, sports, or the many tentacles of media influence distracted us from our families? Have we let the desire to get ahead, or even “toe the line” distract us from caring about other people?

What is the purpose of this day, this hour, this moment? Weapons of mass destruction can never be as harmful as the tools of mass distraction. That’s a thought worth focusing on.
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