Do The Right Thing

When I was in the fifth grade my school decided to experiment with different styles of teaching.  My class was selected to receive cardboard boxes to store their books instead of desks.  Since we didn’t have desks, we could sit anywhere in the room we wanted.  This was all pretty fun until about halfway through the year, when everyone’s boxes began to wear out.  The tops fell off and there were tears in the sides.  This experiment was not going well at all.

One day our teacher announced that the students would have to pay to replace their boxes since they didn’t last.  Looking back, this wasn’t an extraordinary cost, but still, I didn’t attend a rich school.  Many of the kids in my class said they didn’t have extra money to support this type of cost.  The fact of the matter was we didn’t have a say in adopting this new teaching style, so we shouldn’t have to pay for new boxes.

Before I finish my story of the fifth grade boxes, let me tell you about Edmund Burke, one of the many historical leaders I studied while living in Virginia.  For more information on that topic see my blog from last week

Burke was a member of the British Parliament before and during the American Revolution.   Known for his staunch support for the British Parliament, he nonetheless sided with the American colonies on the right of fair representation on taxation.  When the stamp act and then the tea act were passed causing the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, Burke saw that someone needed to take action to avert what were soon to be larger issues.  In April 1774, he gave a speech to Parliament in which he argued that Britain should maintain peace and end these unfair taxes.  Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

As a leader, you are responsible for your team and must take action when negative situations arise within it.  Furthermore, like Burke, who sided with a potential foe because of his principles, a true leader will take action to guard the rights of anyone who is in harm’s way.

Now back to fifth grade.  I can proudly tell you I did do something.  I talked to the principal and explained that this experiment had not worked and the additional cost to the students in my class was not fair.  The principal ended the experiment and brought the desks back into the room.

I would like to finish this blog telling you that I have been heroic and successful in every situation like the fifth grade box story; but that wouldn’t be true.  I do stand up for the rights of others, but just like Burke’s speech didn’t avert the Revolutionary War, my actions haven’t always proven successful.  But that doesn’t keep me from doing something; don’t let it stop you either.