The Fonz did not free the slaves

I was recently doing some kids work with a group of fifteen 7 and 8 year olds. The group leader decided to play an icebreaker game for my benefit where each child would impersonate an animal through sound and action, a good opportunity for me to learn their names. A lot of the children entered into the game, but a good number could not come up with an animal or do a sound. After being with the group for a while I realised that these kids kept resisting activities in different ways, but the result was always the same; they were busy preserving their cool. They were concerned about how they appeared to those around them and did not want to be seen as enthusiastic. This, of course, is the same issue that teachers face in school: where it is not cool to be clever or even to be seen to be trying. I was just surprised that it was affecting children so young.

Now, let me be clear, when it comes to cool I have always been an outsider looking in and I really have never had any cool. Well, there was one time, when my wife and I were first married. A teenage daughter of some friends of ours asked if she could hold her 16th birthday party at our flat, but it’s pretty much been downhill from then. Thus, I recognise that coming from a deficit of cool, it can appear as sour grapes when I criticise its pursuit by others. I have no defence other than that I believe I still have a valid point to make.

Now, let me be clear, when it comes to cool I have always been an outsider looking in and I really have never had any cool. Well, there was one time, when my wife and I were first wilberforce_parliament2married. A teenage daughter of some friends of ours asked if she could hold her 16th birthday party at our flat, but it’s pretty much been downhill from then. Thus, I recognise that coming from a deficit of cool, it can appear as sour grapes when I criticise its pursuit by others. I have no defence other than that I believe I still have a valid point to make.

So let me turn to The Fonz, the epitome of cool, from a certain US TV series. I can understand wanting to have his appearance. However, it is those who ‘have a go’, those who participate I find inspiring. Better to have a dream and to fail than never to dream at all. Maybe it is the difference between idealism and realism, significance and normality. I hope I will choose the awkward dream of Wilberforce rather than the cool mediocrity of The Fonz. I intend to encourage those 7 and 8 year olds to do the same.

2 comments for “The Fonz did not free the slaves

  1. Keith
    December 10, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Hi Daniel,

    First, welcome to RealTalk. You are such a good writer and great with words (except for the occasional spelling error ;>). I’m looking forward to all of your posts and comments.

    Peer pressure is a powerful shaping force not only for children but also for adults. I think it’s our need to feel accepted by those we look up to. That was certainly true of Wilberforce for a part of his life. But then something happens in the life of one of God’s servants called for such a time…

    His hand of grace and pressure fell on Wilberforce and brought a life-changing transformation. Others were brought into His life to open His mind to some new ideas and to fortify his heart for what lay ahead.

    What yet awaits us? God knows and delights to shape us like a potter with his clay into useful vessels. His delights to shape; we delight to yield. “Be it unto us according to Your will.”

    Love you bro!

  2. December 6, 2014 at 4:19 am

    I love this. ” when it comes to cool: I have always been an outsider looking in.” I think many of us can certainly identify with that statement!

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