The reason I featured that particular “code of ethics” (see my May 25 post) for discussion is because it so starkly contrasts with other guidance we get nowadays. I’m thinking of “centering” guidance, such as “We will center racism…” or whatever other ism is in the headlines. I stumbled across the “Live each day with courage…” code when I was browsing news about Wyoming, my home state. I do that periodically, just to see what that broad empty expanse of the Wild West is up to today.
In my most recent exploration of all things Wyoming, I discovered that the Code of the West was adopted in 2010 as the Official State Code of Wyoming. The one thing I changed in my recent post was the “Work for the team” line which was originally “Ride for the brand.” I just figured that “Ride for the brand” would give too much away, and I wanted it to come to you in a neutral way.
This code is being used in schools across the state, and I have to say that prefer it to all of the various diversity, equity, inclusion guidance that kids get in many schools today. I would quibble with lots of it based on experience derived from my advancing age. For example: “Always finish what you start.” Ha. A year ago, as part of my ongoing downsizing effort, I officially gave up on a variety of knitting projects, some of which were fairly close to completion. I’d had them sitting around, some for years, waiting for a bit of advice, time, or that feeling of optimism I had when I started them. They only induced guilt each time I looked at them until I finally said to myself, “This is ridiculous. Perhaps someone will make use of this yarn. Get these out of here!” And yes, I’m glad I did that.
One bit of the code I do like is this one: “Talk less. Say more.” For me, it’s missing a bit in the middle, namely “Listen first.” I really am committed to doing a lot more listening lately, and I am learning some valuable things. I’d do other editing before adopting the code as is, but if a state is going to give guidance in this day and age, I rather they use this code than, say, the Ten Commandments, or “Look for racism everywhere all the time,” or other admonitions that pass for good advice today.
If you were searching for advice that schools could adopt, would you start from scratch, edit something like this, or forego the exercise altogether? Years ago, I substituted in a 4th grade classroom that had this for a motto: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” It was a great class, but perhaps it was because the teacher just led the kids in a supportive, but patient way. Perhaps it wasn’t just the motto. Whatever the case, I do think it might be worthwhile to think through our values now and then. Have they changed? Do they need to be updated? Have world events or personal experience affected how we see things?