There was a time in Japanese society where suicide was thought to be noble, something a samurai warrior considered heroic (hari kiri) and something a Japanese businessman did to take responsibility for failures at his company. Outwardly, Japanese society publicly celebrated the heroic nature of the personal sacrifice; behind the scenes, however, friends and family of the fallen man weren’t so sure that death was the only way for society to gain its measure of revenge — I mean, how many business mistakes are really worth taking anyone’s life over?
I thought about this while reading Jacquielynn Floyd’s columns in last week’s DMN; the columns (links here and here) suggested that DISD Supt. Michael Hinojosa should consider sitting down with the district’s remaining teachers to directly apologize to them and to clear the air after budget problems resulted in firing and transferring several hundred teachers and other district employees.
Floyd suggests that Hinojosa "must keep the apologies coming", saying that "he needs to keep saying it until they (teachers) hear — and believe it." Based on all of the water under the bridge already, I would suggest that will never happen, even if Hinojosa dressed up in sack-cloth and wandered from school to school apologizing and then tearing the cloth in two — someone’s just going to start complaining that he wasn’t dressed appropriately to apologize, and on and on.
But it’s an interesting idea: Hinojosa has clearly taken responsibility for the problem, even though there is some legitimate question as to how directly he was responsible for the error (the head of DISD’s financial department and several associates were terminated after the problem surfaced). As the district’s leader, Hinojosa clearly is the most visible person out there, and there are an awful lot of parents and teachers in Dallas who say they are eager to grab a whip and lash Hinojosa themselves, if given the chance.
Maybe it’s time for Hinojosa to sit down with his troops at the AAC, or somewhere large enough to hold them all, and take whatever heat people are willing to dish out publicly. Maybe then, everyone can move on and put the venom behind us. From the standpoint of a parent with DISD high school students, I can tell you that my kids aren’t getting caught up in the politics, even though one of our son’s schedules was completely turned upside down as a result of a terminated teachers. And that’s all to the credit of the teachers and administrators at their school.
It’s interesting that today in Japan, rather than celebrating suicide as a way to take responsibility for failure, people instead are seeking professional help to work through their problems. They’re talking them out and seeking solutions. That’s a healthier step than merely thirsting for blood when a mistake is made, and it’s a step we should begin employing here.