Rule 9

By Dave Buffington

The woman was so excited.

Sally was calling from Oakmont, a leafy development just south of Hummelstown.

High in a tree, but just outside her window, a hummingbird had built a nest, giving us a rare view of a nesting, soon-to-be-hatching, hummingbird family.

So our chief avian correspondent, Bob Hench, visited the home and got this shot …

Our plan was for Bob to keep going back for a series of shots, to get pictures of the eggs, to get images of the babies, to let us watch as they grow and thrive and fly.

Or not.

Last night, I got this message from Bob:

Sorry, boss, no series of pictures. It appears that a Bluejay got to the nest and took the eggs. Poor Sally had become so emotionally attached to the bird; spent so much time watching the nest and now is all broken up. Mother Nature can be cruel.


Mother Nature sometimes makes floods.

And tornadoes.

And plagues.

And humans.

Which are sometimes bullies.

And predators.

And terrorists.

And war criminals.

But still, we insist on teaching our kids that we live in Barney’s world. You know …

I love you, you love me

We’re a happy family

I’d rather teach kids Rule 9:

Always carry a knife.

To be sure, it’s practical advice. With a knife, you can do all sorts of helpful things for yourself and others. Like open a box. Or cut a knot.

But Rule 9 is also a simple expression of the complex notion that we must teach our kids to be prepared for bad things, like floods and bullies, plagues and predators.

That’s not to say we should teach our kids to be little Dick Cheneys, hardened cynics constantly coiled to lash out at every threat, large or small, real or imagined.

But bad people exist. They come in all ages, sizes, colors and faiths. They pay no heed to school rules and government bans against nasty words and deadly weapons.

They learned that in London a few weeks ago when terrorists ignored Britain’s ban on carrying “dangerous” knives while slashing and stabbing dozens of people.

Those law-abiding citizens were, of course, unarmed and unprepared.

And therefore, victims.

I don’t want our kids to be victims anymore.

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Graduation 2018

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