Get a backbone America!
When I was a kid, I remember playing dodge ball on the playground during recess. If you don’t remember dodge ball, watch the movie ‘Dodge ball’ and that is pretty much it. You have a red rubber ball hurled at you as hard as someone can and you have to either dodge it or catch it. Now, sometimes those balls are flying pretty fast and in the fray, you might get hit anywhere. The foot, knee, arm, body and yes, the face. Once, I was hit in the face. I wanted to quit because it was a shock. It stung. Now, while I cannot remember the names of the kids I played with nor the name of the kid that threw that ball at my face, I remember the principle, Dr. Ide. He was the referee, so to speak. I looked to him thinking he might say something like ‘time out’ or ‘foul’, but to my surprise he uttered the words ‘you’re out’.
That was a lesson to me. What I thought was unfair was not. It was a game. I was not hurt, except for my self-imposed sense of fairness. Who told me that I could play a game and not get hurt? Think of all the games we played as kids; baseball, football, soccer, basketball, dodge ball, tag, hide and seek. All of these games are fun, all require physical effort, and all have their own set of risks. All have their own rewards. Risk and reward. Sounds like life.
Getting hit in the face during dodge ball was a small life lesson to me and many other kids. Life is full of risks. My dad told me to ‘suck it up and get back in the game’. In other words, get a backbone and get back out and play the game. Learn the rules and ‘risk’ getting hit. The rewards are worth it. So, the next time we played dodge ball, I was lucky enough to catch the ball and now it was my turn to hurl that red rubber ball and I did. I do not remember whether or not I hit my target, but I do remember having fun. Jumping, dodging, throwing, catching, physical activity. Learning the joy of winning and the pain of not. Learning to do better if when I did not win. It was a game.
Now, we in America don’t let kids play dodge ball. The public schools have determined it is a brutal game and the risk of someone getting hurt is too much. The teachers just want the kids to go out on the playground and play games where nobody gets hurt or left out or loses. Kids are now told that if they answer that 2 and 2 are 5, that it is ok, they are not wrong, just not right. So where is the risk? If we coddle these kids and don’t let them experience failure, if they don’t get hit in the face with the dodge ball, if they are not told that they are incorrect when they in fact are wrong, then we are raising a generation of failures, wimps, woosies, people that will believe all their lives that they are owed a good grade, owed a good job, owed a good living and good pay. These children will grow up and not be successful because they will not know risk and reward. And it will be because we did not have a backbone and demand that our children be prepared for life. Life has its own set of rules. Risk and reward. Life is not fair or unfair, it just is.
The Constitution of the United States of America states that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but does not guarantee that happiness. We have the right to try and fail. After being hit in the face with that dodge ball, the sting on my face was a lesson that I will not always win, and life can be painful, but the rewards are great if pursued. So I say to you today, ‘get a backbone, get off the ground, dust yourself off and get back in the game.