It’s from a Steely Dan song “Reelin’ in the Years”. The full lyric is:
You been tellin’ me you’re a genius
Since you were seventeen
In all the time I’ve known you
I still don’t know what you mean
For some reason I think of this every time I encounter someone who rambles on about how “Sometimes, you just have to choose your battles.” (imagine a very pinched, pained face) Really? I mean, really? I hear this from almost everyone as an excuse as to why they aren’t going to put any time and effort into something because they have SO MANY THINGS TO FOCUS ON.
Really? C’mon, really?
I don’t know if this is some bullsh*t left-over psycho-babble from the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (…and it’s all small stuff)” line of thinking, but generally I hear this from people who have fought NO battles –picked absolutely NOTHING to focus on, who actively are working on NOT making things better. They’re under the impression that it’s actually HARMFUL to pay attention and act accordingly. Otherwise known as, “I’m not that comfortable with confrontation so I’m going to pretend like I just don’t know.” Otherwise, known as “not my problem.”
Great, the world as run by Barbie.
This is an issue for me because I am, as a friend pointed out, one of the ogres. Ogres are the people in the community who expect that the community members will abide by the rules THEY created and expect it of the very youngest members. Otherwise known as I’m Sister Mary Herman Goering. How do you do? By the way, I do care, and I do make this MY problem.
Once again it became painfully clear to me that many of my colleagues were shirking their responsibility towards things like our uniform policy, the students being where they belong, having students LISTEN to and FOLLOW adult instructions, spit out their gum, and keep their food in their eating area (no throwing and no see-food). Yes, I am an OGRE. When I stop to correct students, my colleagues tend to stare at me (save for my fellow Ogres. Thank you. You know who you are.) and then mumble, “I never bother to say anything. I have to pick my battles.” Yet of the six issues I listed, not one is a battle taken up. Upon closer inspection, no battle regarding the redirection of impolite behavior is on the battle plan. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many people are disappointed by the behavior many of our students exhibit.
The worst part about this phrase, however, is how much respect I lose for the speaker. Each time I hear this, what little respect I have for the person dies until I merely smile and nod, realizing that no amount of dialog will shake them from their complacency and apathy. And this is sad because it’s my version of picking my battles.