Perhaps all of you are just waiting to hear what I have to say first and then you’ll chime in. I sincerely hope you’ll offer additional suggestions and you’re not simply waiting to criticize mine. In any case, here are a few things I have thought about.
One glaring problem I see is this: we are the ones feeding the message that entertainment is vastly important when we continue to spend millions on sports and movie tickets, television access, and merchandising. I love this stuff as much as the next person but we have to begin to change the message. I suppose when kids ask for movie or TV themed school supplies we can give in under the auspices that this $5 won’t make a bit of difference or we can put our foot down, say NO to the purchase, and explain to our children that we cannot morally support an industry that bickers over millions while so many of us live paycheck to paycheck. If enough people choose to spend their money on books, culture and other forms of entertainment beyond the purely entertaining, perhaps a new message will be heard.
I am a huge supporter of the arts – performing and visual. I definitely shell out dollars for live theater tickets but I do it without hesitation. My parents took my brother and me to the theater, symphony and opera growing up. Sure, we complained sometimes but I remember more about history, Shakespeare, and even politics from what I learned on Thursday theater nights than I do from a lot of my formal education. I was thrilled when I read in the paper last week about schools using Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” to teach about bullying behavior. What a great way to expose young children to classic literature and live theater while opening up dialogue about a current and very serious topic in our schools.
Next, what can each of us speak up about and try to change on a global scale? I, for one, would love to have the FBI quit spending their money protecting the movie industry and transfer those government funds to provide quality education materials to ALL schools. The movie industry can use its own money to fight its battles. I don’t know how to go about getting this change rolling or if it’s even possible – I’m fairly certain the movie industry will use its money and power to fight anyone who threatens this. It’s just something I would change if I could figure out a way to do it. I would also love to see schools having to spend less money on defending themselves from lawsuits – of course this is a topic that goes way beyond our schools. When did Americans become so lawsuit happy? When did the country become a place we have to protect ourselves from rather than live in? I would love to see a paradigm shift from living in fear to living in support of each other.
Perhaps shifting more money from prisons to schools, and specifically early childhood education, can help raise a broader generation of caring and better educated individuals. This is nothing new. We have study upon study showing us early childhood education is key to future development. We also have multiple studies showing prevention is far less expensive than future disciplinary action. Why are we afraid to act on what we know is best practice?
I wake up some mornings hoping to change the world but knowing I can’t do it alone. However, any difference I can make, no matter how tiny it may seem, is a difference made. I encourage everyone to find one small change you can make to help your own personal cause. If enough of us do something, anything is possible!