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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Poignant loneliness, part II

Carlos made a comment to my first post that brought up the issues of how we categorize people rather than taking the time (admittedly, time we don't have) to get to know each other as individuals, and it got me thinking.

When I was in 11th grade, I was chosen to be a participant in a peer counseling program at school. There was a total of about thirty of us in all, and most were among the most popular kids in the school: jocks, faces, cheerleaders (rah rahs), brainiacs, etc. They put us through a training program that lasted a number of weeks and consisted of lots of deep conversations and revelations in small groups and 1-on-1 encounters.

So what happened?

An amazing amount of mutual respect. And caring. And understanding. I realized that the cheerleaders and the faces had a clue. The jocks actually had feelings. And the quiet ones, like myself, had something to contribute. To say that the experience changed us is an understatement. I think we all walked out of that training program with a new view of who we were and of the people we shared the school with. We were better people.

The peer counseling program crashed and burned. I talked with two people who requested me. I think, of the thirty counselors in the program, I may have been the only one who talked with anyone. You see, the trust wasn't there. The school I went to had so many cliques that it would make your head spin. That's high school, and unless you put the entire school through such a program, it's not going to change.

Wait a minute...that's SO what's needed. Imagine, an entire school taught to talk and to listen to each other. Jocks and nerds interfacing. Braniacs and stoners. Cheerleaders and goths. Can you imagine what would happen if people were taught to look beyond the labels?

Maybe there are answers after all...

3 comments:

Sidney said...

I see you've fallen to Twitter. That's on my list of things I need to take advantage of.

Hey, if you have the time I'm tagging you for the Six Unremarkable Quirks Meme. Rules will be on my blog shortly.

Clifford said...

Oh man, I only get six quirks? You gotta be kidding me -- how am I supposed to choose?

Charles Gramlich said...

But, you can lead a horse to water but can you make him drink?

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This is me and one of my two cats. His name is Cougar, and he’s an F1 Chausie. A chausie is a new breed of cat under development. Chausies are the result of a cross between a domestic cat (in Cougar’s case, a Bengal) and a jungle cat (Felis Chaus). Cougar’s mom is 8 pounds and his father is a 30-pound jungle cat. He’s about 16 pounds, super intelligent, spirited, and toilet trained. A writer without a cat (or two) is not to be trusted.