When I was in sixth grade, one afternoon chaos erupted in our classroom. A very angry bee had found its way into the classroom, and everyone panicked. Everyone including the teacher crowded into the furthest corner of the classroom as the bee zoomed repeatedly around us. The girls shrieked, and the boys covered their heads--but at least one of them kept swatting at it, making the bee even angrier than it was when it first arrived.
It was pretty obvious somebody was going to get stung, and being the only person in the classroom with a serious allergy to bee stings, I didn't really want it to be me. I wasn't that interested in taking a trip to the ER that day.
And so I walked across the classroom and began opening the windows that ran the length of the room one at a time. When I did that, the bee followed me, and began to buzzing closer and closer to my head to the point I felt him brush the side of my face a couple times--lets just say I was a little nervous about that bee.
Two or three other boys saw what I was doing and started opening windows from the other end. People were shouting at us to stop! They thought we were making it worse, and the bee was going to sting somebody. I knew they were right about one thing--somebody was going to get stung. There was no question in my mind at all about that. I also knew bees could only sting you once, so the choice was pretty obvious to me anyway. Do nothing, and most assuredly one person in that classroom was going to get stung, or do something to change the situation, and maybe the bee flies away and nobody gets stung at all--a no brainer.
Once the windows were opened, we grabbed a few three ring binders and tried to encourage the bee out of the window. Everyone was still yelling at us to stop, but we kept trying to encourage that bee to go outside. And suddenly, the chaos ended as quickly as it began. The bee flew out of the classroom. My friends and I quickly began slamming all the windows closed. Problem solved.
I remember at recess that day, several of my classmates were still angry with me and my friends. According to them, because of our stupidity we almost got them stung by a bee. My recollection of the events that morning were very different. My friends and I saved someone from being stung.
The experience that day provided me with several very early and very valuable lessons that have served me well in life.
1.) Crying, complaining and ignoring a bad situation doesn't change a bad situation.
2.) In a bad situation don't expect anybody to do anything--you have to take it upon yourself to act.
3.) Even when you're acting in the best interest of the group, you will be criticized no matter what you do.
4.) Even when your course of action proves correct in the end, your decision will nevertheless be questioned after-the-fact by the same people that stood by and did nothing.
5.) You can't allow fear of criticism to stop you from acting in the future. Those that can, do. Those that can't or won't, watch and complain.
It is far easier to criticize than it is to act, but it is far more rewarding to accomplish than to admonish.
And of course, there is one final lesson I learned that day. If you're going to get stung by the bee anyway, isn't it better to get stung trying to avoid being stung, than being stung in the butt while cowering helpless in a corner? I think so. Don't you?
~Todd E. Creason