By David Anderson
“The sluggard is deceived by the __________________ of his _____________________. So by inches and minutes his opportunities slip away.” (source unknown)
That’s the key truth of my mentoring lesson plan today with my 5th grader.
Are you smarter than a fifth grader? How would you fill in those blanks?
I’ve got a ruler for my mentee that for every six inches it’s 3/8” short of the real thing. No big deal right? I mean what’s 3/8 of an inch?
For that matter what’s a minute here-or-there, an opportunity missed now and then, an indulgence allowed, a thought unchecked, a word unbridled, a cultural shift downplayed?
No biggee, yes?
My mentee and I will go out in front of the school to where the sidewalk ends. We’ll both start at the exact same spot and he’ll use his ruler and I’ll use mine. At the beginning, the difference will be imperceptible. But the further we go – in fact with every six inches we go – he’ll be 3/8” short.
But, no big deal.
There’s a good deal of debate in our country as to what matters – enough to be measured anyway.
“Family values”, suggests Kevin Noble Maillard, have gone the way of “winged horses and caped crusaders.” Maillard, given he’s a law professor at Syracuse University, thus offers a surely dependable measurement to navigate life’s cultural morass, yes?
Then there’s Janel Benson, assistant professor of sociology at Colgate University who declares that what we really need to measure in this country, what families mostly require and the way in which America can primarily benefit lies down the road of economics and education. Thus the current debate over same-sex couples – in Benson’s long-view – is “a distraction”, an annoyance, a minuscule, minor, hardly-worth mentioning – much less measuring – fraction of the yard-stick that ultimately serves only to fragment and fracture the family-unit.
It’ll be interesting to see how far down the path my mentee and me – let alone our country – will have to travel to discover that something really big has gone badly wrong, that little things do matter, that ‘sweating the small stuff’ is an important – ‘gi-hugic’ in fact – determinant in where we end up.
Our community is one-mile long, 5,280’. By the time I reach the end of my road, using the measurement my father taught me, my mentee will be well behind, thinking he too has finished his course only to find he has misjudged the distance having been misguided from the start.
What we place in the hands of those who follow matters.