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Stop, look, listen! Stranger danger on campus!

August 16, 2023 - 00:00
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The impending return to school brought to mind a comment from one of my grandchildren upon their pre-COVID graduation from college. It hurts my heart every time I think about it but I’m sharing to prepare families of incoming freshmen for the changeling who may sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.

Before COVID I didn’t realize the degree of influence liberalism enjoyed in Texas’ universities, so I was caught off guard when my grandchild assumed that because I’m a “red state” woman, I don’t like gay people. Given the inclination of some family and close friends, the statement would have been hilarious had she not been so sincere in her belief.

So, how did we get from Vacation Bible School and love thy neighbor, baking cookies, sewing, playing Mexican Train and watching Sponge Bob with her grandpa to grandma is a homophobe? Well, I’ve got a pretty good idea and below are a few straight-from-theheart points to ponder!

No. 1 is “Stranger Danger.” This crop of freshmen will surely remember the Stranger Danger admonition from childhood. According to Wikipedia, “The phrase is intended to encapsulate the danger associated with adults whom children do not know.”

The “do not know” part is important. I mean, what else would you call a professor a student has never laid eyes on until the first day of class, other than a stranger? Sadly, Stranger Danger exists under a cloak of respectability in the form of tenured, activist college professors.

No. 2 is “Stop, Look and Listen.” According to, the words “‘Stop, look, and listen’ were said in an effort to have you exercise caution, especially at street corners and railroad crossings, by stopping, looking to the left and to the right and listening for approaching vehicles or trains – in other words, impending risk. “

Exercising caution in the lecture hall as well as at railroad crossings might mitigate another kind of risk!

No. 3 is “Believe what you see, not see what you believe.” These pearls of wisdom come from black, conservative political commentator and talk show host Larry Elder. According to Elder, if you are taught to believe there’s a racist or homophobe around every corner, that’s exactly what you will see around every corner.

I understand not all children are raised in homes which practice the Golden Rule, but speaking specifically about our Grimes County graduates, they understand the theory. Most of our students have gone to the same school and church, participated in the same organizations with the same people all of their lives. Given Grimes County’s demographic mix, the number of interracial friendships and marriages, our children would be hard-pressed not to find someone who “looks like me.” By the time they walk across the stage to receive their diploma, they SHOULD have a pretty good understanding of the kind of community they grew up in and how it treats people.

If I could rewind life’s tape, I’d challenge my grandchild’s comment against the backdrop of those weekends and summers and endeavor to discover how a virtual stranger managed to implant an idea that her life experience should have told her was false. How could this person who knew nothing about my grandchild, her parents, or her late grandfather and I, erase 18-years of life experience and convince her we were homophobes! What manual override did they employ to cause my granddaughter’s common sense to malfunction?

Life isn’t perfect here but sometimes I feel like we live in a bubble protected from the craziness that surrounds us. Our students need to be prepared to hear and experience pressure they may not have encountered at home – the inducement of guilt, promotion of victimhood over victor-hood instead of being provided knowledge and skills for a productive life.

So, when the stranger offers this new social, political and cultural candy, the savvy student will stop, look and listen and process that information against their own life’s experience – believing what they see, not seeing what they believe. Whatever conclusion they arrive at, hopefully, they will have come to it thoughtfully rather than because of childhood amnesia facilitated by a stranger.

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Connie Clements. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.

Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and an award-winning columnist.