Thoughts on remonstrance

Published Mar 10, 2018 at 4:00pm

Students who, during school hours, would protest violence ought to consider what Confucius taught twenty-five centuries ago.

Confucius supported the duty of individuals to remonstrate elders if necessary but he cautioned people to provide well-vetted evidence presented completely and respectfully.

Interrupting classes and repeating slogans does not qualify as well-vetted evidence presented completely and respectfully. Don’t alienate those you would try to convince.

Rather than interrupt class, consider studying other lessons to help your cause:

• You might learn violence is often a symptom of underlying issues not previously addressed. Schools, health services, governments, the media, and many of us fail to identify and assist people like Nickolas Cruz who might later turn to violence.

• You might study the difference between correlation and causation. Videogame self-medication and binge TV watching may not cause anti-social behavior, but signify other problems that need attention. Banning video games might remove a telltale sign that attention is needed.

• You might discover in class that statistics can be used or misused. Over the last 25 years gun violence has declined. You might also learn that fists, knives, and automobiles have killed more people than guns. Then there is the issue of conscious suppression by schools and governments of data on youth violence.

• You might learn there is more to the Second Amendment than a well–regulated militia. You might consider what is the consequence now that some courts have decided that government is not obliged to defend individuals.

• Students could compare the adversarial and theatric methods of Parkland student David Hogg to fellow student Kyle Kashuv who instead promotes discussion to reach for understanding. Often the object of protests gets lost in noise, attention seeking, play for political power, emotion, and frankly, showing off. Too often coming to understanding takes second place.

While it is hard for outsiders to understand what students are taught, some 42 states approved a curriculum that diminishes the lessons of history to push instead for activist demonstration easily nudged into action by demagoguery.

Beyond class lessons you might ask what is best to know that would extend curriculum requirements and what newspapers, Broadcast news, and social media offer.

Uncover pearls of substance, discuss them with friends, pull the threads together to make sense to you and to others. Discover that if you put words on paper that go beyond slogans you can test the breadth and depth of your understanding, and work with others to check your work.

Rather than protest theater at the expense of classes, let’s work together to advance understanding.