From: Bunny Batzri
Subject: Those who can't...teach?
They let us out for Winter Recess two days early this year, because -- this is hysterical -- one of the new Freshmen is SUING THE SCHOOL. Yup. One of our latest crop of freaks, geeks, jocks and pretty princesses has decided to haul out mummy and daddy's lawyers, aim and fire. It's funny as hell...and it's also sort of scary. Because the kid in question? Is suing on basis of discrimination. See, they didn't make the G&T (Gifted and Talented) program. It's a limited program; they can only take so many kids onto the excellerated track before they have to slow down again, and it winds up doing NO ONE any good. This kid was smart, but there were others who were smarter, so they didn't make the cut.
And now they've decided to sue. And according to the school secretary -- who also happens to be Dame Becky Rainier ap Fiona, Scribe to the Court of Deep Mists, which is why she told me this at all -- there's a very good chance that whether they win or not, the G&T program will be shut down, either in the spring semester or over the summer. The district can't afford the legal battles, the school can't afford the scandal, and so it's the people who followed the rules that are going to wind up being punished.
I think it's understandable that this pisses me off.
We are a world filled with people with different capabilities, skills, abilities and talents. I can't sing a note; I can't sew; if you need someone to slink stealthily through a grid of laser beams and come out on the other side with all limbs intact, I am not your girl. But I CAN do research like a madwoman, my computer security skills are top of the class, and identify every song Simon and Garfunkel ever wrote by the first six notes of music. There are things I can do. They aren't useful in every situation that comes up -- nothing I can do is likely to save the G&T program, although I'll have a petition circulating the second I can do so without risking Dame Rainier's job -- but part of BEING useful is knowing when not to make things worse. If I demanded to be the one who sewed the nettle shirts to save my cursed boyfriend, or challenged a siren to a karaoke competition, I would deserve exactly what I got. Which is, in a roundabout way, why Roger has taken to carrying bactine at all times. Ow.
I look around the world today and see an awful lot of entitlement. More, I see a weird breed of it cropping up, especially among the fae; you might call it Entitled To Help or Entitled To Be Special, but the end result is the same -- people who freely admit that there are other people better qualified or more skilled at what needs doing, but who get ANGRY when they're told that golly, yes, it's the knight with the big sword and the fireproof horse that gets to kill the dragon, rather than the pooka with the cardboard tube and the slightly moth-eaten donkey.
Which is not to say that pooka with cardboard tubes don't sometimes kill the dragon after all. The urge to help doesn't confuse me; neither does the desire to be useful. What confuses me is the ANGER that I see from people when they're told 'yes, we're glad you want to help, yes, we'd love to have your help, no, we're not sending you to fight the fire-breathing death fiend when we've never seen you fight and you haven't got a sword'. This is the point where Roger (who has been listening to me mutter while I wrote) says 'But what about proving yourself?' That's a fair point. How does the pooka with the cardboard tube prove himself if he's not allowed to fight the dragon?
That's simple: find another dragon.
Look, presumably, the dragon that people are frantically arraying knights against is doing something anti-social -- eating virgins, burning down schools, getting the G&T program cancelled. Dragons that aren't being obnoxious tend to be left alone, unless you have some knight errant in the area looking for something to kill. Most problems are that way. We've had a loose board in the kitchen floor for ages, but it hasn't gotten fixed; meanwhile, my Dad has replaced the front window, bought a new back door, had the bricks in the hearth repaired and done an awful lot of plumbing. Why? Because the board in the kitchen is annoying, but it isn't hurting anyone. It's just there. If you want to be taken seriously, find somebody's loose board -- the manticore they just don't have time to get rid of, the scary thing with teeth at the back of the fridge that keeps eating all the eggs -- and fix it. Maybe that isn't a fast route to glory, but it's the route that works, when you want to be taken seriously.
A lot of the problems people will run into in this world are a lot bigger and more life threatening than 'did I make the G&T program this semester?'. If I were to say 'sure' to the pooka with the cardboard tube because I was trying to be 'fair', I'd not only get him killed, but I'd be responsible for any other damage that dragon did before the knight I should have sent in the first place managed to take it down. And that's not fair. That's LESS fair than telling the pooka 'I'm sorry, I don't know what you can do, please find a moment when the city is not in danger of being reduced to ash and SHOW me what you can do, so that next time, I'll be aware'. I would rather hurt feelings than contact next of kin. Every time.
I've also encountered a disturbing undertone of 'if you don't let me help, I'll FORCE you to let me help' -- and frankly, this strikes me as a bad idea all the way around. If I tell you 'please do not attack the dragon; you'll just make it angry, and then it will be harder to kill', and you sneak out to attack it anyway because you want to prove me wrong, well...you'd better be DAMN sure that I am genuinely, one hundred percent wrong. Because if I'm not, and you piss the dragon off, and survive the experience? I will NEVER voluntarily work with you again. I'm not alone in this.
Most of the time, people trying to prove themselves by charging the dragon unprepared after being asked not to just prove themselves to be too unreliable to work with. Even if you come to me, smug and soot-covered, clutching the dragon's head in one hand, I'm unlikely to work with you again. Why? Because loose cannons are just as dangerous as dragons, in their very own, very special way. So congrats; you've proven yourself capable of killing a dragon, and you've proven yourself too unstable to be trusted. Yay for you.
Sometimes part of doing the right thing involves saying 'here I am, here is what I can do', and then waiting. Maybe you don't make the G&T program this semester, but there's always the chance you'll make it next time. Maybe you don't get called to slay the dragon, but there's always the chance that someone will remember you saying 'I am fast and quiet and can sneak' and send for you to scout the next time the situation calls for it. Everyone has skills; everybody's hour comes 'round. The problems arise when I say that I'm entitled to be the one who solves every problem, turns the tide of every dilemma, not because I am the best suited for the job, but because I am Entitled To Help.
To each the measure of their capabilities. And on that note...I need to go print some petitions.
C'mon, SOMEONE had to say it!