- - Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Dear Dr. E: As I am watching the stories of campus chaos that seem too numerous to count, I am struck by the childishness and juvenile arrogance of the protestors. It appears that these 18-year-olds think they are the masters of the universe and that no one more than five minutes older than them has any wisdom that is worth hearing. None of them seems to be coachable. I am curious about your take on this. What in the world is going on? — WATCHING FROM THE SIDELINES IN WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON 

Dear Watching: The key to answering your question is best summed up in the word “coachable.” This truly cuts to the heart of the matter concerning all this campus chaos.

Anyone who has ever been involved in athletics, no matter at what level, understands what being coachable means.  

Being coachable is synonymous with admitting you don’t know everything. It means recognizing that someone else, with a little more experience than you, might see something you don’t. Being coachable means being willing to go to the sidelines, accept criticism, listen to the advice of someone wiser, do what you’re told, and change direction. 

Being coachable is the opposite of arrogance. It is being humble enough to admit you might be wrong. 

Being coachable means you’re mature enough to admit it’s not about you. It means acknowledging your ego simply doesn’t matter. Being coachable means listening rather than talking. Being coachable means taking responsibility for your mistakes rather than complaining about everyone else’s. 

Mature coachability is the opposite of teenage obstinance. Where children dig in because they think they know everything, adults have the humility to admit their plan isn’t working and “call an audible.” 

An adult admits he’s fallen, gets up, listens to the coach, and runs the next play. He learns and grows from each failure. He doesn’t start whining about “safe spaces” and “microaggressions” and blame everyone around him for his bumps and bruises. He doesn’t stay in the huddle and expect everyone to give him a big group hug. He accepts his responsibility to admit when he’s wrong, get back in the game, and run a different play. 

The best athletes realize that their vantage point and their understanding can be limited. They look to their coach, who has been around the block a few more times than them, to help them assess the defense they are facing and make adjustments. The coachable person is open to the possibility, if not the likelihood, that he might be wrong. He learns from his failures and wants others who are wiser than him to point out his weaknesses. 

The coachable person listens. 

If these campus protesters are anything, they seem to care more about the sound of their own voices than what someone else might be trying to say to them. They can only hear those who enable, appease, and “affirm” what they want to do. If anyone challenges them, i.e., coaches them, with an idea that they don’t like or, heaven forbid, suggests that some of their choices and values might be wrong, they shout them down and silence them. 

What does it matter that Jerry Seinfeld might have some good advice to offer? He thinks it was wrong for Hamas to behead Jewish children, so he needs to be silenced. He needs to be expelled. No one should listen to him. 

What does it matter that Candace Owens, Star Parker, Clarence Thomas, or Tim Scott understand the plight of the black community much better than these white college detractors? They are conservatives. They should never be invited to speak. They are verboten. 

The list goes on and on. 

What does it matter that Dave Rubin used to be part of the radical left and has some insightful wisdom to share from his experience in The Young Turks? What does it matter that David Horowitz used to work closely with the Black Panthers and left them for some very clear and good reasons? What does it matter that Abby Johnson used to be pro-choice and no longer is for reasons that are much more defensible than the worldview she used to hold? 

The outcome of not listening is stagnation, not growth. The outcome of not changing is defeat, not victory. The outcome of talking too much and listening too little is perpetually childishness, smugness, and rage. 

What is going on right now on our college campuses is akin to watching a bunch of spoiled children in their “terrible twos” throwing temper tantrums because their mothers have constantly “affirmed” them and have never once told them, “No.” A good dose of “coaching” by the local police would go a long way in correcting the problem.  

If you are seeking guidance in today’s changing world, Higher Ground is there for you. Everett Piper, a Ph.D. and a former university president and radio host, takes your questions in his weekly ‘Ask Dr. E’ column. If you have moral or ethical questions for which you’d like an answer, please email askeverett@washingtontimes.com and he may include it in a future column.

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