What You Do & What You Don't Do

When trying to settle on a blog topic, I normally try to focus on positive aspects or stories about education, parenting and kids.  Often, my topic is  influenced by current events, political activity that affects children or my own personal experiences.  Today's blog was inspired by a quote that I encountered while reading a news article: "Today is a good day for the children, because this jury said loud and clearly that parents have a duty. ... It's not just what you do; it's what you don't do."

The above statement by Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Ama Dwimoh struck a nerve with me, certainly in relation to parenting but also in regards to everyone's day to day behavior and choices.  It's not just what you do, it's what you don't do.  It brings to mind the last episode of Seinfeld- even though it's portrayed as funny that Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George go to jail for not helping a man who was being mugged (invoking and making fun of Good Samaritan Laws), their situation is an example of lack of action leading to a consequence.

Assitant D.A. Dwimoh's quote was not in regards to a comedic situation.  The mother of a 7-year-old girl was convicted of manslaughter for doing nothing to help as her child lay dying on the floor of their apartment, severely beaten by her stepfather.  Although this situation is extreme, it certainly brings into perspective the choices that we make.  Inaction can be just as damaging as a negative or a violent action. 

Today's Democrat & Chronicle ran an article, Three Young Victims of Rochester Fire Still Fighting for Life, as a follow-up on to the September 17th fire that critically injured a 3-year-old, 20-month-old and 2-month-old.  These 3 children are struggling to survive after being left alone at night in their apartment.  Their mother stated that she was outside but didn't know her apartment was on fire until the firetrucks and firefighters arrived on the scene.  If the phrase "it's not just what do, it's what you don't do," ever applied to a situation and a person's inaction, this is it.

In considering our actions as parents, teachers, citizens and students, the "do or not do" lens is a good tool to analyze the choices that we encounter in everyday life, particularly for children who are learning about behavior and consequences.  Even in relation to politics and the Presidential candidates, asking what did this person did or did not do is a good way to compare actions.  So if you are one of those people who take a little time at the end of your day or week to reflect upon what you've accomplished, ask yourself, "What did I do that I'm happy with or proud of and what did I not do that I could have (or should have) done?" as a way to help guide your choices in the future.