They love it.
The point is, you get a lot of insider information when you get up close and personal with teachers. You learn a lot about their joys and frustrations, their dedication, their commitment and their deep and abiding love for the kids they teach. They may hate them, but they still love them. They have to. Nobody would stay in a profession with horrible hours, horrible benefits, and horrible pay if they didn't love what they do and the people for whom they do it. .
I've always believed this, but now I am even more convinced; teachers are the most underpaid professionals in the world.
Our regular meeting day is Wednesday, which this week, happened to be the day after the election. I had an unusually small group. I asked what could possibly keep the absent members; two Assistant Principals and a Student Liason teacher as well as one or two others, away from the fabulosity that is me, their fearless leader. Despite the stress and the long hours, they are a pretty raucous bunch and normally they would laugh, but today my question was met with sighs and muttered "Oh boy"s.
I got the scoop, but I sort of wished I hadn't.
A student had apparently gone on a shockingly racist, homophobic, hate fueled and misanthropic rant on Twitter. Now, the school administrators have no authority to punish students for things said on Twitter or Facebook, unless there are threats made against other students or teachers. So it wasn't about punishement.
It was about keeping the kid alive.
Word spread quickly, as word is wont to do in the information age. Within moments, not only the student body of that school, but that of other schools, those with larger minority populations, were privvy to his outburst.
To put it simply, they were pissed. And rightly so, given the nature of his diatribe. Threats were made, and though some of them were empty, not all of them were. The kid was escorted into school the following day by two armed policemen. The students were incensed that he was allowed in at all. Things were getting ugly, and from what I understand, riot control personel were on stand by.
All that is pretty shocking, but not that new or different. We've seen it before, too many times. And too many times we've seen bloodshed as a result.
No...what shocked the teachers, was the fact that this kid is a well behaved, studious sort, from a good Christian home with two parents. They just couldn't fathom it. But I could.
In my 25 years here in the South, I've seen this kind of thing more often than I ever though I would. Something grips the people here, something deeply rooted and sinister. It's more than bigotry, it's a pro forma rejection of anything different; anything that threatens to undermine the incontrovertible truths and traditions which with they have been raised. Whatever this thing is, it gets dressed up in Christian clothes and passes for morality, righteousness and even patriotism. THAT is what's shocking to me.
I'll tell you honestly, that some of the ugliest, most intolerant, and bigoted things I've ever heard, came from the lips of Christian people. Those who praise God on Sunday, but spend the rest of the week spewing vile, vicious, hateful things about people they call friend and neighbor. Just because they are different.
I unfriended a person like this recently. At first the insults were vague, the tone more sarcastic than truly vicious. But as the election drew nearer, the tone of his posts changed and became increasingly malevolent. He hurled invective, slung insults and passed judgment with righteous fervor. Who is this man? He was once my oldest child's baseball coach. He held prayers before each game. (long time readers might remember a post about that). His wife was a preschool teacher at a local Christian school when my children went there. According to all criteria by which we measure such things, he is a pillar of the community, moral, principled and Godly.
And yet, he is clearly filled with hate.
I didn't know this about him until we became friends on Facebook. But was I suprised? Absolutely not. For the same reason I was not surprised that a Christian child would be filled with such hate that it finally became too big to be contained within the justification of his beliefs and spilled over into the secular world in such a spectacularly shocking manner.
They are not rogue Christians, they are not extremists, they are not zealots. They are the face of Christianity in the South. And they are not alone.
What is the point of this post? There isn't one really. I'm just sad all over again at the way our differences drive us apart and also the knowledge that regardless of my own behavior, I will never be good enough, smart enough, moral enough, or principled enough for those who hold themselves above me simply because their Christ says they can.
The irony is almost perfect, if there is such a thing.
Christians...PLEASE take note. This is why people are turning away from you and your houses of worship in record numbers. This is why people are abandoning their faith and casting their lot with the "damned". This is why we do not want the of taint Christianity infiltrating our schools and our government offices. This is why we turn down your invitations to church and vacation bible school and Wednesday night youth group. This is why we want absolutely nothing to do with Christianity in any shape form or fashion.
There are good Christians out there, so forgive me if it sounds like I'm painting all of you with the same brush. I know some wonderful Christian people who are kind and accepting and willing to learn about and embrace other ways of thinking and doing. They live as they believe, quietly and without fanfare. These people I admire and respect. These people I feel, have something to teach me. But they are also, sadly, the exception rather than the rule. Even more sadly, all Christians will think it is them of whom I am speaking in this paragraph and none of them will think it is them of whom I am speaking in the rest of this piece.
My kids...my kids are shocked by what happened at the school but like me, not surprised. They've already, at 14 and 17, seen enough of this kind of thing that it's quite old hat. They don't even get terribly upset about it, they just accept that this is how it is.
And that is probably what I find the saddest of all.