Bitter Pill-ars To Swallow


An Essay About Service, Ethics, and Personal Empowerment – Linda Winkelreid-Dobson

You’d like Doc Preston, too. Short in stature, a giant in heart, he’s a pediatrician par excellence. No white jackets here; his casual sweater and shoes remind you he’s a person first and foremost, yet still as professional as the next guy.

Welfare kids and the sons and daughters of rich businessmen – black, white, yellow and brown – are greeted with the same smile, respect, and sense of awe all children deserve.

This piece is part of the series
Homeschooling Freedoms at Risk
May-June 1991 • Home Education Magazine

Index – Homeschooling Freedoms At Risk

Freedoms At Risk – Twenty Years Later

Homeschooling Freedoms At Risk

Freedoms Responsibilities And The “Four Pillars”

Homeschooling Rights and Responsibilities

Bitter Pill-ars to Swallow

From Across the Nation

When first he became my new pediatrician when I was thirteen, I thought him an old coot, asking all those personal questions instead of just taking my blood pressure and temperature. I’m still amazed at how much he learned between then and the birth of my first child twelve years later. Though many years and many more miles separate us, Doc Preston shines as a beacon by which I measure the light of the heart and soul of all professionals. Today it takes just one visit to discover whether a practice is Hippocratical – or hypocritical. Men and women as selfless and dedicated as he in homeschooling are the first I’d bestow the title of “pillar” on. Funny, isn’t it though, but folks like Doc Preston would shun the title, anyway.

And what of self-appointed pill-ars? It’s a title that feeds the ego; Doc Preston’s ego faded long ago. It’s a title that begs respect; Doc Preston earns his. It’s a title that serves its bearer as a shield; Doc Preston has nothing to hide.

What bothers me most about hiding behind words like pill-ar and Christian is not the terms, but that which I discover is being hid – lies, fraud, slander, and a divide-and-conquer methodology reminiscent of the most evil, hostile takeovers in recent history.

Normally, I’d say any group who needs to stoop to such duplicity to gain power doesn’t warrant attention – they usually die by their own hand. But this group preys on the most powerful emotions and vulnerabilities of humanity; ignorance (that of the new homeschooler seeking service), greed (I want my child to have/be the best), and most viciously, fear (don’t mingle with the heathens!).

Think about it. You’re a new homeschooler and you hear of a workshop within travelling distance. You gladly dig into your pocket and plop down money to hear what the “expert” has to say. He says you must spend thousands of dollars for a proper home education. You believe him. And he just happens to have thousands of dollars worth of material to sell you.

Or how about the attorney, well-versed in state regulations, who has raised fear mongering to an art form? He tells you your state regulations are fine today, but “we’ve got trouble brewing right here in River City.” He just happens to sell insurance to “protect” you. Do you buy?

I’ve got nothing against people making a buck. But any pill-ar forced down my throat is a bitter pill-ar, indeed. Particularly at a time when humankind’s very survival depends heavily on unity, cooperation, and our ability to raise ethics and service above profit. Those of us who oppose separatism and exclusivism must speak out to protect the service, ethics, and personal empowerment in which we place our trust.

It seems the moment we put our faith in experts in any profession, the fees increase in direct proportion. Personal energy, and thus, ability, dissipate. Our own energy mingles with theirs, and theirs grows beyond energy to explode in power. Are not the queer politics of power merely representative of the price for relieving ourselves of the obligation, responsibility, and constant vigilance personal power requires?

Perhaps the most bitter pill-ar to swallow is the justification offered by taking scripture passages out of context, further distorting the beautiful truths Christ taught 2000 years ago. My patience wears thin with folks who don’t know me or my family, who don’t comprehend me or my homeschooling purpose, and who don’t care to do either, yet they profess to validate my political beliefs through absurd public statements, create regulations that have me contemplating moving out of my state, and hold on their shoulders the weight of a burden I long ago chose to bear myself. I don’t want justification – I want truth.

When a publication refuses to consider my writing because I will not sign a statement of faith, I choke on that pill-ar. There is nothing Christ-like about closed minds, closed doors, closed policies, or closed hearts. Indeed, these states are anti-Christ and go against the very fiber of His message of understanding, compassion, acceptance, and love. Bitter pill-ars gag, separating us from the life-sustaining joy of free thought, feelings, and deeds accomplished in love.

I see quacks prescribing miracle “pill-ars” for every homeschool growing pain, searching for a way to capitalize on any suffering it may be causing, getting so lost in the opportunities for power they represent that, at best, the good of the movement is lost in both mind and heart. At worst, the good of the movement as a whole is never even considered.

For if it were, what would be their Christ-like response? Would it not embody truth instead of lies, guidance instead of dictatorship, giving instead of receiving, unity instead of divisiveness?

I remember Doc Preston getting us through 3 cases of chicken pox, 10 bouts of the flu, and at least a dozen ear infections via Ma Bell, because he shared his wisdom via the 6:30-7:30 AM call-in hour, saving patients countless time and expense if an office visit wasn’t really necessary. He taught me how to mix a batch of home-made cough syrup which worked just as well as store bought, yet was healthier and safer to administer. When I called him not long after we moved away because the kids were sick and I had yet to find competent medical care, he spent half an hour reminding and assuring me that I, too, possess the knowledge and love necessary to see them through.

This, my friends, is the kind of person the homeschooling movement needs, and in fact, already has. I, along with folks all across the country, field innumerable phone calls every day, sharing information and a warm, loving approach with anyone who asks. Just yesterday a woman returned a stack of books and magazines I loaned her because she intends to begin homeschooling her oldest in the fall. Just in time, too, because a teacher’s college student in Rochester is scheduled to call this evening for information he needs for a paper he’s preparing on the subject. Is there fame? Profit? A title? No, there’s a greater reward – the joy of Christ-like service, not in name, but in deed.

Thanks, pill-ars, but you’re too hard to swallow. I’ll continue seeking out the Doc Prestons of the world. And we’ll continue building the solid foundation that makes pillars not only unnecessary, but tastelessly ostentatious. Personal empowerment -sharing what we have and know freely with others, and turning to true friends who do the same in our time of need – is working just dandy. Maybe you should try it.

© 1991, Home Education Magazine

This piece is part of the series Homeschooling Freedoms at Risk Originally published
in the May-June 1991 issue of Home Education Magazine (Top)

Freedoms At Risk – Twenty Years Later
Homeschooling Freedoms At Risk
Freedoms Responsibilities And The “Four Pillars”
Homeschooling Rights and Responsibilities
Bitter Pill-ars to Swallow
From Across the Nation

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