A follow-up with Mike Smith on LCC Radio 89.7

A talk about cultural issues in a small town

On September 14, Stockbridge students saw Mike Smith Live at the Jostens Renaissance at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. Inspired by his message that day, Uncaged senior Nathan Myers did a follow-up, on air on LCC Radio 89.7 to talk about cultural issues of high school students in a small town.

Q: A lot of us are in sports and a lot of are not, but it’s a very sport community down in Stockbridge. I think that’s because we are a farming community. We like to get hands on. How do you recommend we step away from sports and get people to do things without sports, because I know our football team gets people to do a lot, but how would we get people to do things without some big sports team of ours ask people to come to an event?

A: I think when it’s a small community it’s really important to try and get everyone involved. Whether it’s an event that involves the elementary, middle school, or high school students, it is an event that involves everyone working for the same mission, same goals. There’s always going to be power in numbers, and the more people you get involved and the more people you utilize, the more money you’re going to raise, and the more resources you’re going to get, and the more people are going to here about it.

Q: When I see a problem in school I see teachers telling the kids to split up or send them to another room. Do you think that’s the way to fix bullying, or do you think there is a better way to fix bullying because right now it’s like the old or newer parent model of to separate the kids.

A:  I think we need to ask people more questions. Bullying sometimes turns into the hard lines of teachers is that it happens at the internet. It didn’t happen at the school, and they’re forced to deal with something that isn’t necessarily something they’re an expert in or something that even really involves them. Sometimes teachers get in a really weird spot where they’re forced to deal with issues that have nothing to deal with the school house. It’s interesting to see them have to deal with it, but I really do think that if two kids are picking on each other and saying hurtful things about each other there’s a really good chance of that neither one them understands the other person and understands that the other person has value, and I think that through real, actual conversation is where bullying stops, and I think that we don’t live in a world everyone is going to be nice to each other all the time, and young people and parents learning how to deal with conflict and learning how to deal with people not getting along. Kids today have a very poor sense of conflict solution, and I really do believe that we go from 0 to really upset and saying really hurtful things a lot quicker than it used to happen. Understanding conflict resolution is an important part in dealing with bullying as well. Bullying is tough and hard because you can’t shut your phone off. You’re never unplugged from social media. You’re always a target for someone somewhere around the world, and the tough thing to get away from. I don’t think we’ve cracked the code on bullying as a whole, and I don’t know that we ever will, but I do believe that the most important thing is for an individual person to make sure that they’re the stand for something bigger.

Q: We don’t have a lot of diversity down in Stockbridge. In fact, our upcoming edition on our newspaper is pretty much about that fact. How would we, as a community, learn to deal with diversity ‘cause we don’t have much different ethnicities, races, or religions. It’s all pretty much just one. How do you think we can prepare ourselves for the real world because there’s going to be more than 1 or 2 different ethnicities, races, and things like that in the real world. We’re stuck in that bubble, like you said, that doesn’t get to experience the outside world.

A: I think you got to do whatever you can to experience it. Watch videos that talk about different races or religions, read books that are written by people from different perspectives. Take every chance you get to, you know, I don’t know how close you are to Detroit, or Lansing, or places like that, but there are plenty of places throughout Michigan that are extremely diverse. Do what you can to take a trip down there. Study other cultures, it is really important to understand other cultures. Why they think what they think and why they do what they do. I think when you come from a small community it’s really easy to for kids to have a blanket fear for another gender, or ethnicity, or race, or religion because you’ve ever grown up with it, and neither have you parents. Parents from a small community don’t necessarily understand what it means to live in a diverse place either, and for a young student, a high school student watching this, take an opportunity to learn about another culture. Take a trip and go get out of your small little town.