This past summer, I found myself compelled to write about the “conscious uncoupling” my family did with a certain educational company. I wrote, almost every day, and I processed that departure throughout my writing.
Our academic year started in August with a newly established 501(c)(3) that allowed us to be in community as homeschoolers, didn’t put our local host church at risk of building misuse, and classified all the workers correctly. After the emotions and pondering of the spring and summer I found that I was no longer compelled to write. The Riding Fences post was the one where I finally figured out and made a type of peace with the issues. I gathered all of the same-themed posts and tagged them as a category called “Starfish” with a hope that the writing would provide clarity for others who were seeking to figure out the complicated mess of this homeschool curriculum company selling licenses to do business and community.
I stopped writing, for the most part.
I lived life, homeschooling four kids.
I gardened, enjoying the growth of tomatoes and cucumbers, green onions and fresh mint.
We started soccer season. I cheered on kids who are all elbows and knees as their growth spurts catch them unawares.
I didn’t write.
Yesterday, an article was published on the Federalist that was strongly condemning of anyone who spoke out against the homeschooling giant that is this company. The article was vitriolic. It called the whistleblowers “crybabies” and “busybodies.” It accused these whistleblowers of being supportive of a “cancel culture.” (I was unfamiliar with this term – it means, according to wikipedia, “a form of boycott in which the called-out person is also kicked out of social or professional circles – either on social media or in the real world or both. They are said to be canceled.” My brain thinks a synonym is shunning.)
(Oh! The irony! In the last months I’ve been “canceled” by friends I thought were true in the organization. Ha!)
I’m not going to lie. My feathers got ruffled by the article. From the perspective of someone trained in journalism, it displayed a pitiful lack of research and was incredibly ill-informed. I was irritated because I think anyone who is committed to education should realize that calling your opponent names is a really poor form of insult and shows you don’t actually have as much intellectual ability as you think you do, therefore weakening your argument.
I was offended because in the writer’s spit and vinegar “crybaby” accusation I was personally accused.
I, and others I can personally attest to, have cried buckets of tears over these issues. I’ve gone through an incredible, weep-filled, disillusionment process. I’ve sobbed because I feel that I was betrayed and because in my own lack of leadership and ignorance I betrayed others. I have cried over the burden of that guilt. I have cried because people I anticipate getting Christmas cards from each year have canceled me from their lives. I have cried because I truly miss the greater community of knowing you’re part of a movement.
Oh, yes. I’m a crybaby.
But not in the way the author callously suggested. I don’t have to feel shame.
I see the bigger picture. I see the people who are agonizing right now because I’ve been there. Trying to decide if they’re going to sign a licensing agreement for another year. I see those who have been educating themselves quietly. Who stayed up into the wee hours of the night reading comments on Facebook threads trying to understand. Who are making internet searches to define terms like “liability.” Who are wondering what it takes to be an LLC or if that’s even something to pursue.
Is it worth it?
I see those who are crying because they’ve been leading a sweet community and they don’t want to let them down. Who will have to admit to their own ignorance in order to enlighten others and provide an explanation.
I see the community members who, with a flash of white-hot, full-body flush, realize that if they pay their deposit for next year they are entrapping their Director into a liability no one who really understands it would ever want for their friend.
You crybaby. Go ahead a sniffle. Wail.
I see the crybabies. I am one of you, curled into a ball in a hot shower, sobbing, because you don’t know what to do. Wishing that this decision wouldn’t rest on your shoulders and yet knowing that the mantle of leadership doesn’t wash away as easily as those hot beads of water fall down the drain.
I see you.
You’re not alone.
No one can make your decision for you.
There will be voices. Voices. Voices. Telling you what to do. Inside your head thinking, “What if…?” Others pooh-pooh-ing the suggestion of any concern: “It’s an attack of Satan. If you listen to it you’re giving credence to the devil.”
But there are more voices, ones you might not ever hear in person.
They’re the voices of the previously canceled, the has-beens, the ones already broken away who know your struggle intimately.
Those voices are raised in prayer for one another. For you. There’s a murmur, heard by a Father who is the greatest Guide. We pray for one another, pray for guidance, pray that our spines straighten and our thoughts are clear.
Yesterday, I asked my husband if I should write a response to the Federalist article. (I run everything by him that involves this company because I never know if I’m the next one who will get a cease and desist letter. I live in a shadow of fear of what may come that will affect our family… not just because of my writing but because I followed the recommended business practices for years, did what everyone else did, plus signed the contracts and sponsored the events… and the statute of limitations hasn’t run out…)
He asked me: What I would say that I haven’t already said?
“You don’t have anything new. You’re reiterating. People who really want to know can read through the blog posts and sort it out.”
He’s right, you know. It’s all there in the Starfish category.
But there is one thing new, one thing I’ve noticed that I want to write about today.
I woke up this morning and read the comments on that silly article and the realization hit me.
When I started to research to see if anyone else had any issues with the way things were done with this company there were scads and scads of glowing endorsements and only two sources of anything remotely negative. (A Facebook group that was closed after the owner was threatened by the company and the Spiritual Sounding Board). When I asked my leadership about them I was told to disregard those sources, that there are always haters, and that they knew personally that the people behind these two sources were mentally unstable.
That was years ago.
Last spring when things were getting very uncomfortable in my world I found another facebook group. It was relatively newly formed and there were two or three voices that wrote with strength and clarity. They helped educate me. As I pursued their questions myself I began to realize that though I had some specific issues with my local leadership, there were other issues that were far larger and more systemic than I had ever imagined.
This morning, reading the multitude of comments on that article, I realized there are now dozens of voices speaking up. The voices of women who have been educated, of men who are tired of seeing these women placed in unconscionable, unwitting places of liability.
These “crybaby” comments, across the board, are better written and more educated than the original article. The commenters are taking the time to try to explain to naysayers why the nuances matter. The difference between profit and non-profit. The difference between independent contractor and employee. The difference between healthy service and subservience manipulated by psychological abuse.
This is new.
And it’s a BIG DEAL.
For people who are committed to educating others, there are a lot of people who are being educated. It may feel lonely because it’s still an individual decision, but boy, oh boy, there is a swelling of people who now know. Who understand the issues. Who want change and are begging for it.