Saturday, August 17

Sharing Shorts: Screen Door

Squirrel Lake

Screen Door
by Richard Becker

Every summer we migrated north with the birds, flocking to a family lake cottage deep in the woods. My Grandfather built most of it: thick logs fashioned into a home and painted green; big bay windows on the west side to catch the reflection of the sun off the waves; a screen door on the east with a squeak that said welcome home.

It was a retreat where family members gathered to remember some things and forget others, caught up in all the charm and challenge of living the moment. Who would win at penny-ante poker? Who would pull in the biggest fish? Who was old enough to claim their right of passage by plunging into the water and swimming a mile to the other side of the lake? Who would lose their marshmallows in the bonfire made from an old boat that had outlived its purpose?

It was a place with backwood rules. Flush for two but not for one. Flip the bail closed on the spinning reel before the lure touches the water. Never buy bait because it’s easy enough to dig up nightcrawlers in the morning or net minnows in the early afternoon. Expect to clean what you catch unless it’s a Muskie. Never let a screen door slam, and expect someone to call after you if you do. “Don’t let the screen door slam.”

The last time I shut it quietly behind me, my Grandfather was half the man I remembered. Lymphoma had stolen most of him. We didn’t take the boat out or pick wild berries or climb the watchtower. There were no accidents on my uncle’s radio to run to or trails to mark or gardens to tend. We settled on telling each other a few good stories before he lifted a broom above his head for exercise.

It was the last time I ever saw him, and the last time I ever walked through the front door again. The cottage was sold by his second wife a few years later, compounding everyone’s sense of loss with reoccurring emptiness that comes around every summer. Looking back, I should have slammed it.


Screen Door is not so much a short as it a scrap — a warmup for things to come. For more shorts, scraps, and classes, follow my page @byRichBecker on Facebook. Goodnight and good luck.

Monday, July 1

Social Bullying: Social Justice Calls Out Dodgeball


The Canadian Society for the Study of Education at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences claimed that dodgeball teaches oppression and called it akin to legalized bullying. They argue that social justice demands the complete and total elimination of dodgeball.

The society added there is a hidden curriculum that encourages the “marginalization, powerlessness, and helplessness of those perceived as weaker individuals through the exercise of violence and dominance by those who are considered more powerful.” The legalized bullying argument kicks in as researchers say that the smaller, weaker children tend to be targets of stronger, more agile players.

The study proves how social justice bullies too. 

Sure, only a few embraced the study while most defended dodgeball as a life lesson. The novelty of the conversation died out because of the absurdity of it. Few people want to see dodgeball eliminated.

Take a minute to look a little deeper than dodgeball, however, and the story demonstrates something else too. It shows how progressives can employ analysis to further agendas using emotional blackmail — often arguing that the only solution to something that may be unfair to some is to make it unfair to everyone. The elimination of dodgeball, educational choice, private insurance, national borders, personal wealth, and economic opportunity.

As for those who disagree? They are quickly labeled as being very the bullies who likely benefit on the “marginalization, powerlessness, and helplessness of those perceived as weaker individuals."

A solution of inclusion seldom begins the promise of exclusion.

Some of the arguments against dodgeball often alluded to how schoolyard-picked teams were akin to stacking the deck, with the most athletic chosen before weaker players. What they miss is that the picking process ensures students all students have an equal chance of participation, with both teams consisting of players who are perceived to have better skills and those who do not. It's balanced.

Any solution beyond this somewhat uncomfortable selection process — one employed by most team selections during physical education class — is simple enough. Schools could always experiment with breaking classes into two groups. Athletic players in one. Less athletic players in the other.

If done correctly, those assigned to B teams could strive to join the A teams as their skill sets or strategies improve. Meanwhile, the A teams would probably enjoy the more challenging game.

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