The Rising Storm

The fourth grade classroom hung in comfortable silence, each student but one reading from their favorite book or short story.  I sat stone-faced and defiant at my desk; my little four foot 2 inch frame shaking from pride, fear, and a concrete conviction.  “Carver, why aren’t you doing your reading?  It’s reading time.”

Miss Kraft’s voice, I always thought, sounthe measure of mikeded like a repressive dictator’s howl.  Others insisted that her voice mirrored her personality—sweet and kind.  But I knew better.  Hers was a voice of cruel injustice, demanding far more from her students than I thought prudent.  Assigning homework every day?  What gall and arrogance.  It was more than my fourth grade soul could bear.  And the others were with me, but lacked the courage to resist, to revolt, to rebel.

“Carver?”  Miss Kraft asked again.

A hot fusion of blood rushed to my head, blushed my checks with courage, and I silently mimicked Kevin from Home Alone, “This is it, don’t get scared now.”

“I’m not reading, Miss Kraft.  You tell us every day to read and I’ve had enough.  I am an agent of my own choice and action.  So today I choose to no longer follow your tyrannical laws of education, but instead to make my own path to freedom.  Send me to the corner, to detention, to the principal’s office itself, but I am not reading today!”  I found myself slowing rising from my chair, fists clasp in haughty disobedience, voice shaking but ever increasing in volume and force.

“Too long you have reigned over us in prejudice and inequality.  Too long has your despotic arm stretched its stinging shadow of pain and homework over our nights and weekends.  And too long has your undisputed power been left unchecked to ravage and pillage our childhoods”  I was no longer shaking.  The fear had dispelled and I spoke clearly while anger wisped from my lips “Well I say no more!  I say no more reading, no more history, no more science, and for mercy’s sake, sweet heavens above, no more math!”

I was on top of my desk now, all eyes fixed upon me in awe.  Out of breath, chest panting, I scanned the room and saw glimpses of hope and courage in the eyes of my classmates.  Now was the time if ever there would be one.  I gathered what remained of my resilience, looked at Comrade Frau Kraft sitting behind her imperial desk, and boldly shouted to those in my periphery, “Who’s with me?”

The children were now rising too from their seats.  First to his feet was Ben, my ever faithful colleague and my brother in arms.  Then Alice, my sweetheart to the end, stood beside her desk.  All arose; all threw down their texts of lies, their images of discrimination and deceit, and joined together in united opposition against the secret society of repressive grade school education.

“Carver?  I said, why aren’t you reading?”

Miss Kraft’s voice shook me from my day dream.  Her repeated question slowed Alice and Ben from their flirting just long enough to glance my way before continuing their disgusting display of grade school romancing.  “I am reading, Miss Kraft, I promise.”  I hung my head in submissive defeat.  Maybe tomorrow I’d find the courage.  Maybe tomorrow I’d find my words.

Lessons Derived

My grade school revolt in fourth grade is a real story.  I’m proud to that say I did find my courage and my words, although, naturally, nothing came of it, and both the reading time and the homework persisted.

But it is the importance of words that then became highlighted in my life.  Words are used every day by most people to convey their thoughts, ideas, feelings, and even actions.  And unlike my failed attempt at leading a revolution, words themselves have driven the cogs of rebellion in nations across the globe.

Words serve to motivate groups of individuals into action or submission.  Words can be used to insult and uplift, inspire and degrade.  They can convince, rebut, confirm and deny.  The power inherently housed with the arrangements of words is unfathomable and infinite.

The power of words to impress themselves upon the human conscious leads them to be used to drive commerce as well.  Advertising and promotional phrases catch the ear and memory of consumers and subsequently drive them towards the products or services associated with those words.

Similarly, businesses with an online presence benefit from search engine optimization, or SEO work, that uses keywords to drive consumers to the sites of those business.  From inspiring thousands to stand for their civil rights, as did the words Martin Luther King, Jr., to enticing billions to purchase a mediocre hamburger, as did the marketing geniuses of McDonald’s, when words are used properly there is little that cannot be accomplished.

Jamie Bates