I had something interesting happen to me that I have not seen in a long time, a person actually went out of their way to tell me I was not good at something. In this day and age where teenage bravado is only matched by anyone’s desire to share or overshare whatever they are thinking whenever they are thinking it, I’m still amazed at how far someone will go out of their way to put others down. I got an email the other day that read, “Hey Guess What” in the subject line with the message of “Your videos are really bad.” I was a bit shocked. More so because these were not my videos, these were my students’ videos; and much like an overprotective parent, I was ready for battle. Then I was a reminded of a great poem I was exposed to a few years ago, and I asked myself, which are you, a builder or a wrecker?
I watched them tear a building down;
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a mighty heave and a lusty yell,
They swung a boom and a side wall fell.
I said to the foreman, “Are these men skilled
As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said, “No indeed!
Just a common laborer is all I need.
And I can wreck in a day or two
What it took the builder a year to do.”
And I thought to myself as I went my way,
“Just which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by the rule and square,
Or am I a wrecker as I walk the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?”
The person who took the time to email me is obviously a wrecker. I know I’m a builder because the quality of video my kids are producing now is far exceeding where they were this time last year. I am building a program. While I hope to have a famous movie director win an Oscar some day and say “I’d like to thank my high school film teacher Mr. Soeth …” I am more empowered by the idea of knowing my kids will leave my class with an appreciation of film and a strong work ethic to see tasks through. As such, my students will become builders and not waste their time trolling through the web looking for people to tear down.
Thanks to Steve Southard who shared this poem with me many years ago.