Snow and grit

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

As I voluntarily braved the snow and wind early this afternoon, I felt a bit bold and adventurous. The wind was blowing strong enough that it was difficult to see. I had to hold my hood onto my head if I wanted its protection. At one point, I found myself on the edge of a lawn, because the snow made it hard to differentiate between where the sidewalk ended and the yard began. Only a few cars passed me, slowly, cautiously.

I envisioned myself the lone patron at Pure & Simple Cafe, which I was walking just over two blocks to visit. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise when I encountered a crowd just finishing up their lunch meeting, plus six other lunch guests scattered about the dining area. They looked a little surprised to see my snow-covered self (probably mostly considering the elements they would encounter upon their departure). But then they returned to their animated conversation and good-byes.

I describe my surprise specifically as pleasant for this reason: life goes on despite the weather. I was glad to see at least 16 other people (plus workers) living that way in Pure & Simple today.

There is much moaning and complaining when our lives are dictated by the seeming whims of our local school administrators.  Will we be closed today? Will there be a two-hour delay? How do I make arrangements for my kids? What do I say to my boss when he asks why our school is the only one closed in the county? Will my mother be free to watch my daughter again?

While I don't want to contribute to the criticism and frustration, I do want to express one concern that my husband and I often mention: we are losing our grit as Americans.

Yes, it's complicated. Our overly litigious society lives in fear of the next lawsuit that will put another company out of business or set back the already strapped school district. Sadly, these are legitimate concerns.

Yet, another valid concern is that we need to teach the next generation that life continues despite difficulty. That we face adversity with courage and determination. That a snowy morning doesn't provide an excuse for setting aside responsibility (while going out to play in the snow is definitely a worthy recreation option).

So, because our institutions are almost required to exercise extreme caution, we'll have to take on this challenge as parents and mentors. We should model and discuss grit, responsibility and courage. We should teach our kids to not view lawsuits and "easy" money as the answers to their problems. And we should remind them (and us) that it was the pioneer spirit and courage of forefathers and mothers that made our nation great in the first place. Because I will tell you this: students in South Korea study from 8 AM to 10 PM every day of the week, plus go to the library on Saturdays. Students in Russia have to find their own way to school, and they do: walking, riding subways, or taking public buses. If we in America learn to live in fear of not only bad weather, but potential bad weather, we are setting ourselves up for a pretty indolent future.

Besides, walking in the snow can be quite fun, and overcoming obstacles is very fulfilling. I highly recommend regularly doing both.