I haven't been able to find the actual events that the movie claims it is based on, but I'm sure most of us could cite many examples in our own lives where we ourselves have stood up to the obstacles that littered our path, and the challenges that seemed insurmountable to do what needed to be done. This movie does show how easy it could be to give up when everyone around you says it can't be done or the bureaucratic red tape makes change as likely as the return of the dinosaurs. But it also shows how one person can indeed make a difference if they persevere. "Won't Back Down" is an action movie. Not the kind of action where cars are crashed and violence erupts, but the kind of action where one person believes and gets a small group of people to band together to work to achieve a common goal... in this case turn around a long-time, failing school...to take hopeless and turn it in to hopeful.
It has been my experience that there are a lot of people out there that I have worked with, gone to church with, watched parent, and observed in the news that have a lot to say - or even complain about - but have a real hard time putting actions to their words. There's the blame game or the idea that someone else needs to do it. It's easy to talk about something that needs to be done or needs to be fixed, but it's a whole other ball game to do something constructive to make it happen...in other words, you have to "Walk the Talk." That mantra puts actions behind the words and takes you from "wanna be" to "git 'er done."
"Be the change you want to see in the world." Ghandi's famous line moves us to act, first as an individual, if we want to see things accomplished. Sure there are even greater things that can be accomplished if we get others to join us, but it starts with the person who is willing to take the first step. It's so easy to say "I can't" or to dismiss the ideas of others - "we've done that before" - or to give up when rejected. We also find ways not to move forward when we think everything has to be perfect before we can start. We certainly need to do our homework and have a plan, but we can't let the planning get in the way of action.
When I think about that movie, I also think about being passionate enough about an idea or goal that nothing can deter you from succeeding! When was the last time you felt that strongly about something or someone? What would you fight for? Who would you fight for? How many times would you get up after being knocked down?
I walked out of that theater ready to take on the world. While I don't think any school I'm associated with needs to be taken over, I do think every school I'm associated with has changes that need to be made to make them better. We can teach better. We can lead better. We can communicate better. We can serve better. We often talk a good line, but don't follow through. We have budget cuts that severely limit our ability to provide the best possible learning experience, and legislators and governors who don't truly understand the business of education, and administrators who seem to have forgotten what it is like to teach, but no one can take away our ability to care for each and every student and to give our best effort from the first bell to the last bell everyday. Sure it's easier when you work for someone who provides you with great support, resources, and keeps morale high. It's also easier when all the kids are eager to learn and do everything you tell them to do. But there's no one to blame to not be your best and do your best. We have to be what we expect our kids to be. If things aren't going the way we want them, then it is up to each one of us to be the change we want to see... and let it be known with our words AND our actions, that we will walk the talk and we "Won't Back Down!"
So the next time you say to yourself, "someone ought to do something about that," maybe you should consider that someone might ought to be you.