When ends do not justify means.

Two parts to today’s post. In the first I actually have something good to say about social media. In the second I ask you if you think the means justify the end in a recent event in our town.

ID-100103066In earlier posts I have often commented negatively on social media.

One major problem I have with them are their uses as platforms to persecute any one expressing an opinion that is out of line with the multitude of politically correct and generally liberal, users who believe freedom of expression only applies to them and those sharing their views.

Others are the distraction potential of social media and the effect on productivity, serious reading, writing and “real” conversation.

Now for one of the benefits.

Last week’s post would not have been written or published without social media.

Without the Internet, Google + and twitter, I would not have made contact with the author Cait Lynch.

Our paths crossed about two years ago when we both subscribed to a series of online tips for personal and business growth by Chris Brogan of Owner Media. The subscription included access to a closed Google + group and the many interesting discussions that group members started.

With our shared interests in horses and publishing our first books, we have remained in touch and I was happy to publish Cait’s guest post last week. I have also bought her book, Nourish, and am finding it interesting and enlightening. It’s an easy to follow system to get fit, stay healthy and lose weight if necessary.

Here’s the question.

Do the means justify the ends?

Last week, a large number of High School students in our town walked out of class to draw attention to the high suicide rate among young people.

It’s an admirable cause. The suicide of one young person is a tragedy, five in five months in a small town an indication that there is a serious problem.

Does the concern over the suicides justify a mass walk out from school?

I have no difficulty with students taking action to shine a spotlight on a problem they believe needs attention. I have no problem with students holding a rally in a library parking area; after school hours – as long as it does not inconvenience other residents or businesses.

Where I have a problem is the attitude of the public, school authorities and the media to students walking out of class.

Reactions to the walk out have ranged from those that condone it, those that support it, to those that congratulate the students for taking action by walking out of class.

There has been absolutely no mention to my knowledge, of any disciplinary action for abandoning their classrooms.

Few people I have spoken to can separate the cause and the activity. Most take the view that the end does justify the means. Because it’s an important cause, we should overlook the breaking of the rules, walking out of class.

That attitude, in my humble opinion is one of the reasons we have a problem in society today and perhaps a contributing factor in the high rate of suicide by young people.

No consequences for breaking the rules.

An environment without consequences does not prepare young people for the periods of adversity and difficult times they will almost certainly face at some point in their lives.

We all have to accept situations in life that we don’t like. We are free to deal with them however we want, but if we choose to break the law or ignore the rules, we must be prepared to accept the consequences.

It goes without saying that this behaviour in my school days would have had very serious consequences. However, even in my sons’ generation’s school days, a mass walk out would have resulted in a mass caning and probable expulsion for the ring leaders. Not celebration and media interviews.

As liberal commentators are quick to point out when referring to allegations of the torture of terrorists to obtain information that could save hundreds of lives, the end does not always justify the means.

How will those who condone this walk out react to one for a minor complaint?

What do you think? Leave a comment

image courtesy of domdeen / freedigitalphotos.net

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  3 comments for “When ends do not justify means.

  1. Roberta
    June 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I agree one-hundred percent with you regarding walking out of school. If they wanted to demonstrate they could do so on their own time. That is true support.

  2. Michelle Kosloff
    June 23, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    I agree. I always told my kids that I would support them if they stood up for what they believed in… but they would also have to deal with the consequences. I would support them in that too.

  3. Peter
    June 24, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Reader Sandy commented via an email response to the newsletter version of the post.

    She makes some valuable points and her comments contribute to the debate in a positive way, I asked her permission to reproduce her comment here. She has given that permission, here is her unedited response.

    Thank you Sandy.


    Generally I am in agreement with what you say in your blog.
    This time, however, I think your viewpoint is not quite on the mark.

    Sometimes the end can and does justify the means. If so, is it
    appropriate for those students to be punished? Certainly caning, torture and
    expulsion would be very unhelpful and problematic. It is far more important to
    focus on the learning experience.

    Dan Henry hosted an excellent talk segment on Heart FM that included
    a student with a panel of mental health professionals. Raising awareness
    is an important goal of the media.

    You do say that the cause is important and admirable and there is a serious problem.
    I think that, given the issue of life or death in our youth population, that is an understatement.

    Attendance in the classroom is not going to solve or alleviate the root causes in society. Learning
    is really what is important and the whole community needs to come together to problem-solve.

    Way back when in my Aylmer high school days, some of us in late June of our graduating year
    occasionally cut class to go to the beach etc. Some teachers actually were ok with that – they
    probably did the same. As kids move on to university, there are many choices to attend lectures or not.
    I am not aware of any research to show direct correlation with breaking attendance rules in class and suicide.

    In my former life, I worked with many troubled and even gifted youth who, in fact, have experienced debilitating stress as a
    consequence of continual failure and/or frustration academically. I believe many students who walked out have real
    empathy for their classmates who are struggling.

    The walkout from school did cross a boundary but it was done with respect
    and a purposeful plan that many professional adults have supported. Self-advocacy
    has often not often been valued in our formal educational institutions.

    For many years, teens in our community, particularly those who
    are suffering mental health issues have been falling through the cracks in the system.
    Our agencies strive to partner more effectively but there are still barriers in service that exist.
    I hope we continue to provide a forum for teens to talk openly and honestly with
    adults they can trust to support them to be healthy, mentally well and make good choices.


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