On Making–Aiding and Abetting–“Snowflakes”

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

Snowflake: “A term for someone that thinks they are unique and special, but really are not. It gained popularity after the movie ‘Fight Club’ from the quote ‘You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else’…a putdown for someone, usually on the political left, who is easily offended or felt they needed a ‘safe space‘ away from the harsh realities of the world” (Urban Dictionary).

So what tends to happen to and among Snowflakes who self-shelter in their safe spaces from opposing viewpoints, realities, or ideas? Consider one more poem from my summer stack of favorites:

The History Teacher

by Billy Collins

Trying to protect his student’s innocence

he told them the Ice Age was really just

the Chilly Age, a period of a million years

when everyone had to wear sweaters.

And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,

named after the long driveways of the time.

The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more

than an outbreak of questions such as

“How far is it from here to Madrid?”

“What do you call the matador’s hat?”

The War of the Roses took place in a garden,

and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom

on Japan.

The children would leave his classroom

for the playground and torment the weak

and the smart,

mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,

while he gathered his notes and walked home

past flower beds and white picket fences,

wondering if they would believe that soldiers

in the Boer War told long, rambling stories

designed to make the enemy nod off.

From “Stand Up Poetry: The Anthology” edited by Charles H. Webb. (The University Press, California State University, Long Beach) 1994, featured here.



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2 Responses to On Making–Aiding and Abetting–“Snowflakes”

  1. Colin Markham says:

    Thank you Phyllis. A timely reminder of the folly of modern parenting skills (or lack of them). Children and young people are often wrapped up in cotton wool to shield them from the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’. This is a foolish thing to do. Our path through life is full of pitfalls and we can’t escape them. Learning to deal with them forms character. We sink or swim, depending on our resilience and fortitude. In all the ups and downs of life the Lord is with us to guide and protect us. Oh, and dont forget that each one of us is assigned a guardian angel.


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