Without Fear: What Adults Can Learn From Young Explorers

 Image by @storyanthology

Image by @storyanthology

“Almost nothing was known about how children even explored the world,” Roger Hart explains in interview with Alix Spiegel, “and then I came across a book on baboons. And I realized that we knew more about baboons' everyday behavior than we did about children's behavior outside of school.”

So, in the 1970’s, Roger Hart set out to learn more about children’s behavior by filming them in their natural habitats and away from their parents. “There were 86 children between 3 and 12 years of age,” Hart explains, “and I worked with all of them, all of the waking hours for two and a half years, I was with them. They were my life, these kids,” and they took him everywhere.

He mapped their exploration, adding descriptions such as, “frequent paths, not used by adults.”

“They had more than the run of the town,” he explained, “Some of them would go to the lake, which would be on the edge of town, and the lake, you'd think, would be a place that would be out of bounds” because the parents weren’t motivated by fear. There was no talk of abductions, stranger danger, nothing. So the kids wondered and played all over town.

Not so today.

“{S}everal years ago, Roger went back to the exact same town to document the children of the children that he had originally tracked in the '70s, and when he asked the new generation of kids to show him where they played alone, what he found floored him . . . The huge circle of freedom on the maps had grown tiny.”

Even though the town was exactly the same physically and demographically, even though “the town is not more dangerous than it was before” and that there is “literally no more crime today than there was 40 years ago” parents are operating according to fear, and kids are staying closer to home.

The modern life, according to Ralph Adolphs, a professor at Caltech who spent decades studying fear in the human brain “is constantly triggering our fear in all kinds of ways that our natural world didn't.”

News reports that depict violent scenes and soundbites of murders, of men and women describing atrocious moments of violence and fear, and the many other images and ideas of horror throughout the world constantly surrounds us. “And Adolphs argues that because of our wiring, we are just not set up to ignore it,” which distorts our experience of the world and activates “our fear when we don't need it.”

We’ve become overly fearful and extremely protective, even as adults, with our maps of exploration growing smaller and smaller. Geographically, and intellectually.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” Mark Twain writes, “and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Luckily, the youngest of us have not learned to be fearful or bigoted yet. May we all learn a lesson from these young explorers and their adventurous spirit.

Kids do not want to be contained.
They are built for adventure.

You can watch more young explorer videos here or listen to the full podcast from above, here.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Short FilmsOn Parenting : Favorite Podcasts

What We've Been Sold : How Social Media Impacts Reality

This film by Wild Combination, a creative studio comprised of roughly three to 30 individuals that partners with companies, creatives, and causes to bring engaging & cinematic stories to life

I’m trying to be the voice or the image of the people who don’t have that voice . . .

When you walk into a class and see me, I want you to feel taken care of . . .

That’s why I became a yoga teacher, because I wanted to share that with other people . . .

I see your white, I see your black, I see your fat, I see your skinny. I don’t care what you look like, I just want you to come in and open your mind and open your heart.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  : Yoga : Wild Combination

Humility: The Why of teaching, leadership, life

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I’m in Missoula this weekend, attending a principal’s conference, enjoying the mountains, and writing papers. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

I’ve written various chapters for a possible book on education but have been struggling with how to tie them all together, “What’s the overall purpose?” I keep asking.

At a recent teacher’s conference, I asked those in my workshop, “Why do kids need an education? Why do they have to go to college?” then they discussed. Their answers weren’t shocking.

But then I asked, “Why does a student need your subject? And why do they need you as their teacher?” They had a more difficult time answering this question.

Later the following night, while watching the sun set behind the Missoula mountains, an to my question, “What is the purpose of my book” surfaced, “To discuss why we teach.” So often, at conference or in literature, we as educators discuss What to teach and How best to teach it, but how often do we consider Why we teach?

I asked the group that question too, “Why do we spend so much time on the What and How and not on the Why?” For an almost awkward long while, they were quiet. Then, a middle-aged lady leaned over and whispered to her friend.

“What was that?” I asked, “Can you say that again?”

“Because it’s easier,” she said.

“Exactly,” I said.

This weekend’s writing is based almost entirely off the book, Humilitas: The Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership. It’s a simple read, but it is also one of the most profound because it hits to the core of why we teach, lead, and live.

Summary: 

The thesis of Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership is that most “influential and inspiring people are often marked by humility” (pg 19). But this wasn’t always so. For many years, men and women would never have considered humility a lost key to life, an honorable character trait, or something worth emulating. It wasn’t until just a few thousand years ago that humility was introduced into the Western world, forever changing the way we think, and the way we lead. 

According to John Dickson, a historian and senior research fellow of the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, the ancient Greek and Roman world was built up on an honor/shame culture. In this time, a father would not have been concerned with whether his son was happy (in the modern sense) “or made money or lived morally, but whether the boy would bring honor to the family, especially to his father, and to himself” (pg 86). Honor could come through participating in a military victory, advancing through the ranks of official society, or by inventing/creating something that would greatly benefit the village – where his name and his family’ name could be pointed to and remembered. “In all of these things,” Dickson writes, “the thought was not so much the importance of conquering evildoers, making a difference to civic life or benefiting others; the chief good was the respect and praise that comes through these activities and the way they confirm the merit of the one so honored” (pg 86). Life was about being honored, remembered, and revered. Humility was rarely, if ever, considered virtuous because it was for the lowly, not the honorable. 

Humility towards the gods was appropriate because the gods could kill you. Humility was advisable to emperors too, because they too could kill you. Humility towards an equal or lesser was completely out of the question because “merit demanded honor, thus honor was proof of the merit (pg. 87)”.  

It was in this context that ancient Greeks and Romans thought nothing of praising themselves in public or, better still, getting others to praise them because it was proof of their merit. 

Then, from seemingly nowhere, came the teacher from Nazareth.

“Unfortunately, after two thousand years of Christian history,” Dickson writes, “it is difficult for people in the modern West to think of Jesus of Nazareth in a non-theological way” (pg 101). Historians however, have very little difficulty in laying “out the sources of his life, describ{ing} the methods historians use for testing claims about him, plac{ing} him in the context of Roman and Jewish history and outlin{ing} what most scholars agree are the facts about Jesus’ life, teaching, execution, and immediate impact” (pg 102). And according to historian scholars, Jesus’ immediate impact upon the Western world was introducing humility as a virtue. Because of Jesus, humility is no longer scoffed at or looked down upon, it is a badge of honor and pride and the mark of any great leader.  

Humility is “the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself”, it is the “willingness to hold power in service of others” (pg 24). It is therefore impossible to be humble, in the real sense of the word, without a healthy understanding of one’s own worth and abilities (pg 25). Great leaders are not humble because they are sheepish, think lowly of themselves, or because they are “down to earth.” They are humble because when they look in the mirror, what they see is their gifts and talents and resources. They know fully well how good they are, strong they are, or powerful they are. And they must. In order to be humble they must be fully aware of what they have/are, so they can be equally aware on how best to give it away.

“Humility,” Dickson writes, “is more about how I treat others than how I think I think about myself” (pg 25). Although they have a healthy perspective of themselves, it is not their focus.  

Men and women who understand this concept and embrace it as a principle virtue, they become the most influential and inspiring people in our schools, companies, communities, and world. By living and leading through humility, they not only gain the trust and admiration of those they lead, they inspire and encourage everyone around them to live to their fullest and greatest potential, fully embracing their gifts and talents yet deploying them for the good of the community, not just themselves.  

 

Analysis:  

Several years ago, when I first married and was still considering my possible profession, a friend offered me a leadership book, “How to Make Your First Million, By the Age of Thirty,” or something like that. I believe that individual meant well by the gift because I truly do believe that individual wants to help make the world a better place. Sadly, that cannot be said about many leaders in any work force, which is why, sometimes, the greatest leaders refuse to take on leadership responsibilities. Because the stigma of those in leadership is often selfishness and materialism. They become leaders so they can make millions, have more benefits, or gain more power; it’s about them, not others.  

Leaders such as these care deeply about What they do and How they do it because they compliance from their staff; their concern is efficiency, productivity, and numbers. 

“If we're going to say, I'm not a success unless I'm on that best-seller list or this best-seller list, or I get that thing in advance or I have these sorts of ratings,” Seth Godin states, then “you are playing the game of the industrialist,” and therefore missing the point. “The point is,” he concludes, “will someone come up to {you}and say, based on what I learned from you I taught 10 other people to do this, and we made something that mattered” (Godin, 2018). 

The point of leadership is the same, to help others become the best version of themselves so they can, in turn, help 10 other people do the same.  

If, as a leader, the purpose is to be liked, popular, or successful (according to numbers, money, or achievements), then their foundation – their Why – becomes subject to personal gains and losses, not the community’s best interest. And when their personal purpose motive becomes unmoored from the people motive, bad things, scary things, and destructive things begin to happen.  They begin to deploy their resources or use their influence for the good of themselves rather than for the benefit of others. They begin to abuse their authority. 

According to Dickson, a principal, CEO, and president, have structural power that has been handed to them by an organization. They have “the power to hire and fire, set directions, approve budgets and overrule colleagues where there is disagreement” (pg 39). Leaders who wield this power selfishly, who’s aim is to serve and bring honor to themselves and their position, do so because relying on their authority is proof of their status and authority, which in turn creates a culture of fear, mistrust, and survival.  

In contrast, if a leader’s purpose is to help, to honor those they lead, and to employ their resources for the betterment of the community, if a leader sees their position of power not as a right but as a privilege and responsibility to serve rather than be served, they will create a thriving culture of curiosity, trust, and innovation. 

This is why John Dickson’s book is so crucial, because it addresses the Why of leadership and emboldens good leaders to be great leaders. It allows leaders to fully acknowledge who they are and the gifts they’ve been given, to pursue and strengthen those gifts, and to step into positions where those gifts and talents are most needed. Dickson’s redefining of humility gives talented, gifted, yet selfless individuals the push they need to step into spotlight roles because they know, by stepping into a leadership position, their focus will not be themselves, but those they serve. 

Just like Jesus. 

John Dickson, like many non-Christian historians, believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the defining example of humility. And whether or not one believes him to be the savior of the world or not, his example (in relation to humility) is one worth emulating.  

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi: 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 

Christ did not consider his authority as God’s son as something to be used for his own advantage, it was something He needed to give away! His power, his ability to provide eternal life, his authority over death meant He had something nobody else did, and He understood this. He had to in order to properly and fully serve the world. Christ embraced his Godship, his authority, and chose to humble Himself by becoming obedient to death (allowing Himself to die) so that others may live. He didn’t use His kingship to be honored and served (to make millions), but to serve. That is the true definition of leadership.  

It is also the perfect recipe for creating a culture of trust. 

Plato once believed, “that all of us tend to believe in views of people we already trust . . . even a brilliantly argued case from someone we dislike or whose motives we think dubious will fail to carry the same force as the case put forward by someone we regard as transparently good and trustworthy” (pg 42). Leaders who assume leadership positions with a faulty and selfish Why are not trustworthy. They are the exact opposite, which is why they resort to tricks and gimmicks. In contrast, leaders who spend their time and energy thinking about and serving, who care more about the wellbeing of others than themselves are easily trusted. “Leadership is not about popularity,” Dickson writes, “It is about gaining people’s trust and moving them forward” (pg 43). It’s about their advancement, not our own.  

Another outcome of a life lived in humility is that one will “learn, grow, and thrive in a way the proud have no hope of doing” because “people who imagine that they know most of what is important to know are hermetically sealed from learning new things and receiving constructive criticism” (pg 116). This is a radically important concept for a leader. If a leader is not living with true humility, they are unable to learn and grow because in order to do so, they must admit – either privately or publicly – that their skills and gifts and talents are insufficient. And if they’re insufficient, the spotlight will move and shine upon someone else, which could be devastating. However, if a leader is marked by humility, they and their spotlight are already focused elsewhere, leaving them free and open to new thoughts and new ideas, allowing them to grow and learn and better serve those they are leading. “In his battle against early twentieth-century rationalism and self-reliance,” Dickson writes, “G. K. Chesterton argued that human pride is in fact the engine of mediocrity. It fools us into believing that we have ‘arrived’, that we are complete, and that there is little else to learn” (pg 120). Such is the trademark of a selfish leader. 

Being a leader marked by humility does not mean, however, that he or she is soft, easily tossed around, or meek and mild. Nor does it mean being loud and pushy. “One of the failings of contemporary Western culture is to confuse conviction with arrogance,” Dickson argues, “the solution to ideological discord is not ‘tolerance’,” he writes, “but an ability to profoundly disagree with others and deeply honor them at the same time” (pg 23). Having strong opinions and deeply held convictions is not a hindrance to humility. In fact, in many cases, it is the mark of it. As long as we are willing and able to use or withhold those convictions for the good of others before ourselves. 

 

Closing

Living a life and leading with humility not only signals security, it fosters a healthy sense of self-worth that is rooted in service rather than achievement, in giving and not taking. The more leaders rely on achievement or popularity for a sense of worth, the more crushing every small failure or simple criticism will seem.  

In contrast, knowing, living, and leading with a purpose beyond myself that is rooted in the principle of humility provides an impenetrable fortress of security and freedom, for leaders as well as for their staff. If a staff understands that their leaders decisions and purpose is to serve and honor them, if they believe that their leader’s hope is for them to succeed, to reach their utmost potential, and to be the very best version of themselves, a community that supports and trusts one another, that grows and learns from another other, and that defends and protects one another will be established. A type of culture where everyone is embracing their gifts and talents and using them for the benefit of the community, not just themselves, because they know and trust their neighbors are doing the same. “When people trust us, they tend to believe what we say, and few are considered more trustworthy than those who choose to use their power for the good of others above themselves” (pg 147). 

A leader marked by humility is also not afraid to admit mistakes because they are not concerned about their perfect shine. They’re fully aware of their faults, and the faults of others, and therefore choose to freely admit their flaws and mistakes because they know it is what’s best for the progress and strength of those they lead. “Mistakes of execution are rarely as damaging to an organization, whether corporate, ecclesiastical or academic, as a refusal to concede mistakes,” Dickson states. If a leader is unwilling to admit his or her mistakes, if they are insecure and unable to fail in front of those they lead, they can never expect their school or community to try new things, make amends for mistakes made, or seek reconciliation from those they’ve offended. The culture will be stale and shallow, with each person operating out of safety and survival rather than curiosity and trust.  “Apologize to those affected,” Dickson argues, “and redress the issue with generosity and haste” (pg 130).  

Leaders want their staff to believe that they are not only competent in their job, they also want their staff to be proud of them as their boss, to brag about them, and to consider them a superstar, like players do who have been coached by some of the greats. “I played under Coach K,” or, “I was one of Coach Ditka's players.” Athletes who talk this way are proud of their journey and the coach that inspired them, because those great coaches understood humility.

Dickson writes, an "inspiring leader must control his ego and throw his energies into maximizing other people’s potential.” But also, they must ensure that “{the players} get the credit” (pg 156). Coaches who brag about their play calling, their clock management, or whatever instantly lose the respect of their players. Great coaches brag about their players, lift them up and celebrate them; they shift the spotlight, fully and completely, on others and their accomplishments, not their own.

The most influential and inspiring people are often marked by humility. They willingly forgo their status, deploy their resources, or use their influence for the good of others before themselves. They consider others as more important than themselves, and in so doing, they change the world.  

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Education  :  If school was like rock climbing 

Understanding Art

Here are three videos by The Nerdwriter, “a weekly video essay series that puts ideas to work.”

I’ve always enjoyed art and wish I could participate, but I’ve also always felt bit distant. Even though I look and stare and draw conclusions, it often seems the art “Won’t give an inch.”

“Boredom is exactly when we feel time and being most acutely. It can inspire a profound mood.”

Also check out Movies inspired by Art, see how The Village stole from The Princess Bride, or more ideas from Nerdwriter1.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Art : Nerdwriter1

Gandhi's Seven Deadly Sins

The following are excerpts from Stephen R. Covey’s Principle-Centered Leadership. He begins the chapter with, “Mahatma Gandhi said that seven things will destroy us. Notice that all of them have to do with social and political conditions. Note also that the antidote of each of these “deadly sins” is an explicit external standard or something that is based on natural principals and laws, not on social values.”

Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins

Wealth without work :

“This refers to the practice of getting something for nothing” and get rich quick. These ideas are dangerous because, “Justice and judgement are inevitably inseparable, suggesting that to the degree you move away from the laws of nature, your judgement will be adversely affected” (pg. 88).

Pleasure without conscience :

“The chief query of the immature, greedy, selfish, and sensuous has always been, ‘What’s in it for me? Will this please me? Will it ease me?’ Lately many people seem to want these pleasures without conscience or sense of responsibility, even abandoning or utterly neglecting spouses and children in the name of doing their thing. But independence is not the most mature state of being - it’s only a middle position on the way to interdependence, the most advanced and mature state. To learn to give and take, to live selflessly, to be sensitive, to be considerate, is our challenge” (pg. 88).

Knowledge without character :

“As dangerous as a little knowledge is, even more dangerous is much knowledge without a strong principle character. Purely intellectual development without commensurate internal character development makes as much sense as putting a high-powered sports car in the hands of a teenager who is high on drugs. Yet all too often in the academic world, that’s exactly what we do by not focusing on the character development of young people” (pg 89).

Commerce (business) without morality (ethics) :

To Adam Smith, author of Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations, “every business transaction is a moral challenge to see that both parties come out fairly. Fairness and benevolence in business are the underpinnings of the free enterprise system called capitalism.” “If we ignore the moral foundation and allow economic systems to operate without moral foundation . . . we will soon create an amoral, if not immoral, society and business” (pg 90).

Science without humanity :

“If science becomes all technique and technology, it quickly degenerates into man against humanity. Technologies come from the paradigms of science. And if there’s very little understanding of the higher human purpose that the technology is strive to serve, we become victims of our own technocracy” (pg 91).

Religion without sacrifice :

“Without sacrifice we become active in a church but remain inactive in its gospel. In other words, we go for the social facade of religion and the piety of religious practices. There is not real walking with people or going the second mile or trying to deal with our social problems that may eventually undo our economic system. It takes sacrifice to serve the needs of other people - the sacrifice of our own pride and prejudice, among other things.”

“If our church or religion is seen as just another hierarchical system, its members won’t have a sense of service or inner worship. Instead they will be into outward observances and all the visible accoutrements of religion. But they are neither God-centered nor principle-centered” (pg. 91-92).

Politics without principle :

“If there is no principal, there is no true north, nothing you can depend upon. The focus on the personality ethic is the instant creation of an image that sells well in the social and economic marketplace.”

. . .

“If you get a sick social will behind the political will that is independent of principle, you could have a very sick organization or society with distorted values” (pg. 93).

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On LivingDo Orchestras Really Need Conductors?

Scales of Justice : When Pigs Were held Accountable

In January 1457, a domestic sow and her six pigs were charged with murdering and partly devouring an infant. “The sow was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging”, but her offspring were pardoned, “partly because of their youth . . . and the fact that their mother had set them a bad example,” (via).

The mother, for her part, was “hanged and strangled on a gibbet of wood, near the gallows” (via), as an example to the other pigs and livestock on how they were expected to behave.

Because in the mid 1400’s, animals were running amuck, and they needed to be held accountable.

In his 1906 book, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, historian E.P. Evans recounts dozens upon dozens of instances where animals were put on trial and convicted for their crime: sparrows were prosecuted for chattering in Church, a cock burnt at the stake for laying an egg, and sheep, according to Criminal, “a true podcast that understands crime,” were being tried, sentenced, and executed “for seducing men into more than friendly relationships” (via).

It was a very scary time young sheep in America.

At any given time, a man could see a sheep, misinterpret it’s bleating and body language for sexual advances, and be unable to control himself. He would have to have that sheep.

And the sheep - not the man - would be held accountable.

“Eventually,” the podcast continues “people decided that criminal intent wasn’t something you could ascribe to animals” and a sort of paradise was restored. For the sheep, at least.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. “Every 8 minutes, that victim is a child,” with” only six out of every 1,000 perpetrators” ending up in prison.

Six out of 1,000! That number is abhorring. So too is the fact that “{n}o more than 20 percent of rapes are reported to the police” (via), a number that many find unbelievable. “If it was as bad as you say,” the argument goes, “if he was doing something you didn’t want, why didn’t they scream or fight back? Why didn’t they fight for their life?”

And the answer, unfathomable to many, is that by staying silent and allowing it to happen is exactly what they were doing, fighting for their lives.

“One of the things that is difficult for most of us {to understand} about a rape,” Dr. Lisak states, “is that there doesn’t have to be a gun to the head, there doesn’t have to be a knife present, there doesn’t have to be a verbalized threat for the act itself to be enormously terrifying and threatening.

There is a difference between sexual violence and other forms of assault. Sexual violence is so intimate.” When your body is penetrated by another person against your will. It often induces a uniquely powerful kind of terror. According to many peer-reviewed studies, a large percentage of the victims of non-stranger rapes “actually feared they were going to be killed,” even when “there was no weapon and no overt violence.”

Staying silent means staying alive, so too is remaining silent. “Around 90% of rapes are committed by known men, and often by someone who the survivor has previously trusted or even loved. People are raped in their homes, their workplaces and other settings where they have previously felt safe” (via). Rapists can be friends, colleagues, clients, neighbors, family members, partners or exes”, not some stranger hiding in the bushes. It’s someone they see consistently, that they know by name, and that will probably see in their house, at work, or at the next family reunion.

Which makes the allegations all the more difficult, because the victim will be asking family and friends to face each other rather than stand united. And that, according to Judith Lewis Herman in Trauma and Recovery, is extremely difficult. “It is morally impossible,” she writes, “to remain neutral in {cases of sexual assault}”, because “{t}he bystander is forced to take sides.”

It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering . . .

Victims of sexual assault demand empathy. Sadly, however, what they often receive is apathy. “Boys will be boys,” they hear echoing from police officers, school administrators, lawyers, friends, and the many others who are meant to serve and protect them. “You shouldn’t have been drinking,” victims are told, or “Look at what you’re wearing” and “why did you put yourself in that position?”

Instead of empathy, victims are often attacked and maligned for speaking out. Instead, they are held accountable for the perpetrators actions, or mocked on live television.

“Drunk guys,” Krakauer writes in his terrifying book, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, “who may have ‘made mistakes’ nearly always get the benefit of the doubt. Drunk girls, however, do not” (via).

Why is that?

The answer - or problem, rather - seems to be that we, as a country, lack empathy. At least for those unlike ourselves.

In the classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus finds himself defending Tom Robinson, a black man, before a white jury. Tom Robinson has been accused of raping a white woman, but the evidence against the claim is as clear and as simple as “black and white.” Atticus, the judge, and every person in the courtroom knows Tom Robinson is innocent, but because black men were considered little more than cattle, it wasn’t shocking to expect a black man to pay the price for a white man’s (or woman’s) sins.

Atticus understood this. He understood that in order to win and save Tom Robinson, he needed the jury to empathize with the victim; he needed them to see and understand Tom Robinson like they saw and understood themselves - as human. A task as murky and complicated as black and white.

“You know the truth,” Atticus states, “and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women - black and white.” And you can almost see the jury, nodding their heads in approval, perhaps even whispering, “them Negros” under their breath or quietly in their minds. But then, Atticus asks them to reach towards empathy.

But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire.”

Atticus paused and took out his handkerchief. Then he took off his glasses and wiped them” (pg 205).

It is here, perhaps, that Atticus lost the jury, and the point were Tom Robinson was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. In order for the jury to acquit Tom Robinson, they would have to empathize with him. And in order to empathize with him, they would have to admit that they, white men, were similar to a black man. And if they were similar to a black man, that would mean black men weren’t property or cattle, they were human. And if they were human, then the white population would have a lot of explaining and reconciling to do.

Instead, they convicted him of a crime he didn’t commit, as an example of how they were expected to behave.

It was also an example and reminder to themselves and their fellow white Americans, because if they sided with Tom Robinson, if they took his word over the white man’s - if they empathized with him - they would reduce the gap of power. And if they lost the gap of power, they might lose control. If they lost control, the African American community would have a voice and the ability to defend themselves against the white power. They could also accuse it. And that would be extremely dangerous for the young white men of the coming generation.

So they chose to avoid empathy and embrace power. They decided to keep things as they were: divided, and imbalanced.

It is often said that history is written by those who win, by those who have the power. But so too is the present.

Those in power decide what is real and what is fake. They determine who is right and who is wrong, and perhaps most importantly, they decide who is responsible. Be it sheep, black America, or woman.

But the thing is, “Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs,” writes Jessica Valenti, a Guardian US columnist, “Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them” (via).

Sure, woman can become better educated on how to defend themselves, where they should or shouldn’t go, on how much is too much to drink, and on how to recognize the warning signs of a possible sexual assault.

Or, men can just stop sexually assaulting women.

It is a scary time for young men. It is a scary because if they are consistently allowed to behave like animals, if they are not be held accountable for their actions, and if we as a country do not collectively begin to expect more from them, it is indeed scary to think of the men they will become.

And the offices they will hold.