Friday, March 3, 2000
Singing the Praises of Parent Volunteers
This year, because my daughter is playing in the pit orchestra for Concord-Carlisle High School's musical "Damn Yankees," I have been impressed with the number of mailings that have come home regarding the play. One explains that a group of parents will be providing food during the last two weeks of rehearsals; another offers to arrange for flowers to be delivered to your actor/musician/techie of choice, courtesy of another group of parents. There is even an announcement of a party for the parents, asking, "Why should the kids have all the fun?"
But that is exactly why these flyers are being sent hometo make sure that the kids do have fun. The efforts of these volunteers, who I'm sure could have thought of a million other ways to spend their time, will help ensure an experience that these students will never forget. At the same time, they send the message of total support for these endeavors. This isn't an event that is important only to the teens involved; these parents have shown that it is important to the broader community as well.
The same can be said of the seventh-grade parents at the Carlisle School, those parents who are rounding up props and costumes, chaperoning rehearsals, making scenery and doing whatever else is necessary to make this an experience the seventh graders will find memorable. The efforts of these parents benefit not only the students in the play; they enhance the character and reputation of our school, and follow a tradition of caring that has always been a hallmark of Carlisle.
So let's take a moment to appreciate the enormous, and often overlooked, work that these parent volunteers do. When you watch the CCHS musical this weekend and next, and when you see "Fiddler on the Roof, Jr." this spring, give a grateful thought for all those volunteers behind the scenes who helped make this grand, family entertainment possible.
Privacy, Progress, Diversity and Evolution
Our society struggles with many opposing ideals. Equality and individual freedom, strength and compassion, progress and tradition are all balancing acts. But I find the balance between privacy and diversity one of the more interesting dialectics today. It seems that the balance between privacy and diversity can profoundly affect the capacity for the society to evolve.
A society's capability for non-violent evolution stems from the plurality of ideas that circulate at any given time. Our freedom of speech obviously facilitates this. But we also have another notion that people have the right to live anonymously without any societal contact. This wide range of acceptable behavior, from saying whatever's on your mind to keeping all your thoughts and actions to yourself, is quite remarkable.
Privacy can act as a shield to incubate ideas that aren't ready for prime time. An individual or a group of individuals can benefit from the right to privacy by refining ideas, whether they are in the form of art, literature, religion, community, technology or business. However, sometimes this can be overdone. If an idea stays hidden from the public at large for too long, it can evolve in unhealthy ways or, conversely, society could miss an opportunity to change at a more advantageous time.
This phenomenon is probably most apparent in the scientific community. Global warming is still mildly controversial, yet the hole in the ozone layer and its underlying cause is well understood. If we understand that the world changes rapidly even as society and the individuals that make it up stubbornly prefer the status quo, then we must embrace diversity as a source of ideas that can lead to beneficial adaptation.
Morally we need to be careful not to hide behind a veil of privacy just because it's more convenient. Of course, individual survival comes first and if people can hide religious views in a society where they're severely persecuted, then that is probably the best option unless they flee to a more accepting society or culture. On the other hand, if a subculture's numbers are great enough, it may be worth staying the course and trying to become less and less private to gain as much acceptance as quickly as possible. This is easier said than done. Selling ideas is as difficult as selling products. One could argue they're one and the same thing.
It's important to think of privacy as a refuge that should be minimized so as to plow ideas back into society where they can grow and evolve for the benefit of all. Privacy is an important incubator for ideas, but when the idea has gone well beyond germination and it looks as though it still has life, it's time to start thinking about how to pitch it to the world at large.
Of course, privacy can also foster negative energy like that unleashed by the Unabomber. Unfortunately, in debates on privacy today, one rarely hears anyone discuss the negative side of personal privacy. The assumption all too often is that more privacy is better and that any erosion of privacy will only produce negative results. A more balanced discussion on privacy issues would benefit us all.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito