Sparks of Decency.
The title is from an idiom that is negative. It’s a comment on those people who do things of detriment and ill to others or society. So I’ll give an example so no one will miss the meaning:
He is always rude to others, especially those who he should help; he doesn’t have a spark of decency.
We’ve all seen people who can qualify for that idiom. Often we rarely see it when we look in the mirror although we should always be on the lookout. But sparks of decency speaks to the goodness of someone to give an opportunity to someone to shine and to shine even in the arena of debate.
It’s a strange day we live in and becoming more Twilight Zoneish as the days tick by. It’s a day that has caused me to withdraw more than stand out. Over the last six years, any platform of discussion illicit the greatest of derision and losing of friends. It’s sad, but it brings back a memory of sparks of decency someone gave me to engage in the discussion of ideas and the debate of the most important of ideas.
When I was in Junior High – In North Carolina that was Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Grades – I had a teacher for two of those years, and her name was Mrs. Young. She was a great, gentle teacher who taught English and History for two of those years, and was completely enthralled with Egyptian History, but that’s another post. I’m quite sure she has many jewels in her crown if she is in heaven, and if she isn’t yet, I’m assured she will be there and be given many. She was a great teacher and one of the four from Junior High that I remember and treasure. The others being Mrs. Rudisill, Mr. Crisp, and Mr. Scoggins.
One year we were studying the Constitution, and for part of our study she divided us up into the delegates of the Constitutional Convention. We would have our own mock Convention to recreate the debate and establishment of our founding document. I was ready and excited. She drew the names out of a hat as I remember and I was given the position of, John Doe. I can’t remember the name of the person, but he was a correspondent that would be a non-contributing individual but would write about it for the papers. It anguished me from the moment of the announcement.
It’s never been in my makeup to want to sit on the sidelines and not engage in the discussion. It’s like a compulsion to be a part. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to be given a place where I could write and explore that gift and I believe Mrs. Young wasn’t as random in her choice of the roles, but Mrs. Young saw the sadness on my face at the knowledge I was relegated to sitting on the sidelines and not able to contribute to the debate. I decided to do my best, but she knew me well.
This was a week-long activity, and the first day I was John Doe, correspondent of the happenings at the convention, but Mrs. Young had a sharp eye. With the discussion of the first article, she could tell that a severe brain hemorrhage was about to take place in my head. I squirmed and shook with what might have appeared to be a deep seated nervous disorder. Thank God for a compassionate teacher who with a pencil became a great healer and a giver of sparks of decency.
On Day two, Jack Smith appeared! Again I can’t remember the exact name, but he was a delegate from the far-flung regions of the Colonies whose horse died on the trip to the Convention and he was late in arriving. Sadly John Doe, the correspondent, had taken ill by a great malady that I found out was a blessing.
The horse’s death and the malady enabled me to be reborn with one fell swoop of Mrs. Young’s pen! From a non-engaged correspondent to fully vested and engaged delegate. Thank God for that dead horse, and a make believe sickness.
The next four days were heaven for me!
Establishments of Articles. Debates. Parries of discussion. Counter Arguments. Votes. Mrs. Young gave me a gift and shed some ‘sparks of decency’ into my life. She knew sitting on the sidelines was not something in my DNA to handle for the next four days, and her omnipotent pen made the week more enjoyable and engaging for me! I hope it made it more intolerable for those on the non-federalist side. Jack Smith the delegate was an ardent supporter of Federalism and the Constitution.
Forty years later I nearly have the same nervous twitch that came upon me that day.
In this day it seems debate can’t be given without causing offense to almost everyone. I never want to offend anyone, but the DNA to not have a voice in the discussion doesn’t live in me.
I’m reminded of late of the sparks of decency Mrs. Young gave me to jump into the fray and bring debate and arguments about the topics of the greatness of this Nation and the world. I’m thankful for those teachers that applauded the free exchange of ideas for the betterment of all and ignited the sparks of decency.
Thank you, Mrs. Young, for the gift that week and reminding me in my memories to be someone to give the argument ‘sparks of decency’.
Here’s to putting the sparks to work and to a great teacher! Thank You Mrs. Young!