The show must go on
Lockard has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of Northern Iowa (1994) and has continued classes at the Writer’s Workshop in Iowa City. She writes regularly for "The Courier", a regional newspaper, and has published several short stories and poetry. Amy and her husband live in Cedar Falls, Iowa with the youngest three of their eight children.
I don’t have all the answers to the troubles of the day/ But neither did our ancestors and they persevered anyway.
(“Workin’ on a World,” Iris DeMent)
In this fast-paced, increasingly complicated world nearly everyone is talking or posting or rallying. But almost no one is listening. With the whirlwind of social media’s daily barrages and “breaking news” bandying about the latest bleak statistics in gun violence, teenage suicide, genocide, social restrictions, etc., etc., it is hard to remember we live in the most prosperous country in the most successful and progressive time in all of history. We have attained more than our ancestors could have dreamed of, as well as often having the time to enjoy it. And we might be able to do so if only we could stop worrying and arguing and shaking our heads long enough to shake off our own grim predictions.
In Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “blueprint” for the “Leader in Me” program which has enhanced so many young lives in our communities, Habit #5 states: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” So, consider not only what we want from a given situation, but what the other party wants as well. Novel idea.
Last February, in Middlefield, Ohio, the students at Cardinal High School decided to put on a play, cast the roles, and began rehearsals. The play they chose: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” debuted on Broadway in 2005 and won two Tony Awards. They did not rehearse long however, as the play was shut down by the district because of protests from parents. The problem: the script contained mild sexual innuendo and a reference to gay dads.
In one of the truly positive uses of social media, the news of the play’s cancellation went viral, gaining national coverage. It was not long until the original producers of the play discovered their work being maligned. But instead of lawsuits and protests, instead of derogatory name-calling or righteous fury, these original creators worked to alter the script so the students could perform it. They listened to the objections and came up with substitutions for offensive words, for instance “Good Lord,” became “Good Grief.” As long as the alterations did not change the play’s meaning they were willing to work to compromise, while holding the line on altering the essence of the play or the arc of the story.
By working together and trying to understand others’ viewpoints, by showing empathy instead of passing judgment, together they came up with a solution. The end result: a “kinder” play. The school district reversed its decision and the show went on. As it should.
Shutting down others’ point of view, trying to force opposition to shut-up or give up never works. Censorship does nothing but drive the censored underground, as surely as Prohibition sprouted speakeasies. Is there anything more tantalizing than forbidden fruit? Ask Eve. And ask any teenager which books they most want to get their hands on.
Of course, there are great causes to stand up for and work to advance. But are we willing to die on the hill of our “beliefs,” winning the battle only to lose the war? If we truly seek solutions, it is time to change the trajectory of our “storylines,” in our homes, in our state and our country, time to listen more and talk less. In this big, wide, diverse world we daily witness hypocrisy and infringement on others’ rights. And yes, there are (many!) laws being passed in our state and our country which do not take into account differences in people and beliefs. The pendulum swings, yet, as always, the show will go on.
Though the words of Paul McCartney’s “Let it Be,” may be a good mantra for calm, we cannot and should not “let it be.” The real “words of wisdom” are not within that Beatles song; they are: “seek first to understand.”