This rule comes in handy for one of my favorite things: teaching middle school students to think. Don't we all tend to overreact at any imminent threat? I panic if I've forgotten to make dinner, forgotten to buy milk, overslept, or if I've spilled bleach on a washer-full of darks--and I'm an adult! Those poor middle school kids panic over much more trivial events than that, and their panics are much more dramatic and emotional.
What I need to remember, and what I want to teach the kiddoes, is "Don't Panic." Panic short-circuits the solution-oriented part of grown-up thinking and rockets you into hysteria, despair, and foolishness.
Now for the backstory:
My mom is a high school secretary at a Christian school (the school, by the way, that my sister and I both attended from preschool-12th grade). Somehow or other, Mom and her office-mate at the time got a flyer from a student entitled "What to Do if You're Left Behind after the Rapture."
Let me digress about that flyer and the doctrinal morass I'm about to jump into:
*Most Reformed Calvinistic Presbyterians tend not to believe in the Secret Rapture--what the feature film Left Behind teaches. Even if they do--and there are some who do--they don't teach that the people who didn't make it will have extra chances to make the cut (so to speak).
*So, in my little Presbyterian world (which is heavy on the 'instruction of proper doctrine'), this flyer was funny because it made at least two doctrinal leaps: (1) that there is such a thing as the Secret Rapture and (2) even if there is a Secret Rapture, that the 'stragglers' will have another chance, and another, and another...
*I was in junior high school, the age when students are really getting it about underlying rules and regulations AND the compliance thereto. (I was learning proper doctrine and thought that I knew everything...and that I was free to laugh at those who didn't agree with me. Sheesh.)
*The flyer in question was also poorly punctuated, and badly spelled, and used nonstandard grammar. (Those three written-English transgressions have always caught my attention and set my teeth on edge.)
...so, when I was in junior high school, Mom and her office-mate were giggling over this flyer. The funniest part was the first suggestion (because it was so very, very understated): "Don't Panic."
It was funny, because if I were left behind and planes were crashing and cars were wrecking and we had a terrible cataclysmic apocalyptic event, the first thing I would be doing would be, of course, PANICKING.
That was backstory. Remember the rule: Don't Panic. It's good for all of us to learn, and for all of us to remind others.