In an earlier blog, I wrote about performing in the production of Fiddler on the Roof during my senior year of high school. Because our school was so small, musical participants crossed the boundaries of cliques and groups. There were athletes and farm kids and quiz bowl kids and band kids. Because of this, most of the school was aware of the production and came out to support the show. That’s why the following memory still makes my heart jump to my throat.
One day, while the student body was standing in the hallway after lunch waiting for the bell to ring, one of my classmates casually, without thought, ripped the poster promoting Fiddler on the Roof off of the wall and crumpled it in his hands. I was standing right beside him and was dumbfounded. This is a kid I grew up with my whole life and he was always very nice. I was usually (and still am) one of the most even-mannered, cool headed people around. Not in that moment. I unleashed on him. I screamed. I cried. Before I knew it, we were both in the principal’s office. Me, so I could cool off, him – I’m not quite sure what went down, only that later that period he issued a formal apology to me.
The reason this is singed in my memory is in that moment someone disrespected something I held so closely to me. You might be thinking “it was a silly poster promoting a silly show”. Not to me, not in that moment.
Small Town Leadership Lesson: Never rip someone else’s poster down. Don’t casually cast aside what someone else holds dear. Watch how you cast judgement on the values, aspirations, and passions of others. An offhanded comment you make that isn’t intended to be disrespectful or hurtful could be exactly that in the eye of your victim. And in turn, if you ever feel violated, tell the person who has done it to you how they hurt you. My high school classmate might not have thought twice about what he did that day if I wasn’t standing right beside him calling him out on it.