Judge Gilliam – I disagree. The latest “viral” Faceook is a reprint of a 1959 published letter from Judge Philip B. Gilliam of Denver,Colorado. Parents (and grandparents) of teens and tweens are lauding it as sage advice that “Every teenager should have this framed and hung on their wall in their room.”
A part of the letter says: “Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational facilities. The world does not owe you a living. … Grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like a man or a lady.”
Maybe, in the midst of wallowing in a pool of self-absorbed pity, a lecture like that might have made me shake off the mud and move on, but I couldn’t remember a time. What gets me out of the mud is inspiration, or the perspiration of other people who are climbing out of tar pits.
What works for the kids I work with, my own and others, is invitation, skills and tools. I would rather Sarah Kay’s poem “If I Should Have a Daughter” went viral. A part of the poem says: ““There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.”
Same message – “You can contribute something to the world, get off your duff and make a difference.” One is a lecture that inspires no one but a frustrated parent’s anger and makes my inner teen aged rebel want to sit harder and longer in the mud. Sarah Kay stokes a fire within that makes me want to fly away far away from all my self absorbed puddles of mud. Let’s hope no one (not even Judge Gilliam) is standing on my cape!