628: Rules and Mercy

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Today’s people believe themselves unique from all others, and entitled to special consideration in honor of that fact. Yes, it is a fact that you are a totally unique person – JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. This uniqueness is both unremarkable and ubiquitous – that means it is universal, and something that is universal certainly doesn’t make you unusual, or deserving of special considerations for being exactly like everybody else.

Rules (and laws, for that matter) come about because somebody caused a problem, a serious problem, and the rule or law was established to prevent someone else from causing the same issue – in other words, somebody screwed up and now everybody else has a rule/law, including those who didn’t need it because they’d never do it, anyway. Like murder, for example. It’s against the law to kill another person. DUH. Despite it being against the law, with specified serious consequences up to and including we (as a society) will KILL YOU BACK – apparently, that potential consequence doesn’t stop a whole lot of people from doing it anyway.

Aaron Dickson, President of the Board of Directors of the Texas Prison Museum stands on November 19,..

And this, for something so serious that it could very likely end up terminating your unique existence on this planet – they do it anyway.

Now, imagine this mindset, the murderer’s mindset, applied to all the many smaller rules and laws that exist to keep order in a society: I’m going to do it anyway because this broken rule/law won’t (usually) kill me. This is the recipe for chaos in society, and friend – we are THERE.

The evidence is there to show we have arrived. A quick Google search supplies the frightening fact that people KNOW that texting while driving, which BTW, is illegal nearly everywhere, can kill (and does kill, on average, about 11 people a day) and yet  35-45% of people DO IT ANYWAY. More than 15 of every hundred adults (37.8 million) in the USA is a smoker, KNOWING it can and does kill. The list of irresponsible, life-threatening risk-taking continues in like vein for many, many behaviors, for many, many thousands of people.

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This doesn’t include the little stuff that is designed to make a workplace, a home, a school an orderly place to function. If people are so contemptuous of the stuff that can and does KILL people, I suppose it is entirely within character for them to frequently, usually and completely ignore all the others, too. I can only assume this is because, as a totally unique individual, I am therefore cosmically exempt from all strictures and consequences. hahahahahahahahaaha, yeah, right.

There is such a thing as mercy. God offers it in the act of salvation, and occasionally, He suspends His usual laws of the universe and miraculously bails out someone from the natural consequences of their own actions – or circumstances beyond their control. It happens too often to be just chance. Occasionally, and more and more frequently in this modern age, judges and other administrators dispense mercy to individuals who also don’t deserve it.  That WOULD BE the definition of mercy: salvation, or grace extended to the undeserving.

COUNTING on mercy to absolve you when you deliberately flout rules and laws is stretching it. Very few escape justice (man’s or the cosmic variety) forever in this life, and no one escapes it in the next.

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275: Too much

The little international school where I work in Morocco is going through a tough patch. The person who has been running the school virtually single-handedly for the last year was not hired for that position. This poor lady, a very well-meaning, hard-working, sympathetic and sensible person, got saddled with the job (not the PAY, of course) of running the entire school, after she was hired as a part-time administrative assistant. Thank God for teachers and students she did not run screaming into the night, as she probably should have done. We have managed to get through this year due entirely to her efforts and good sense, with minimal casualties.

It has not been easy. The little school has lots of potential, and unfortunately, that is likely to be the way it will continue for years to come – lots of potential that is not being lived up to. IT is a shame, because things could be a great deal better with some competent leadership – and no, I am not talking about me. My advanced degrees in Education are all for curriculum nd subject matter, because I don’t want anything to do with leadership, thank you very much. I can cut a child some slack, because they ARE a child and I can say to myself, they just have not learned about that (insert here whatever it is) yet. But when you are dealing with a troublesome adult, you cannot offer them the excuse that they are not old enough to know better. Some adults are astoundingly childish. And if you are a school administrator, you don’t keep your job by being frank and honest with the parents of the children in the school. You must placate them, and deal with all their issues as if they actually had merit, even if they don’t. I don’t play that game well.  That is why I am a teacher, not an administrator.

The difficulties we’ve had this year have really been too much. The director of the school passed away from cancer this spring, and the replacement for her is not working out well, at all – he is even worse at communicating with people than I am, but did not have the sense to stay out of administration like I did. Oh, well – only six weeks to go!!

142: Dignity

Dignity is a foreign concept in this modern world in which we live. In class, my students and I are reading a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel called To Kill a Mockingbird. I chose this novel for us to read for several reasons: it is a classic, I had enough copies of it for the number of students in the class, and I happen to be born and raised in the culture and region (if not the time frame) where this novel is set: the American Deep South. I can read the dialect conversations in this book with the real accent.

If you have previously read this book by Harper Lee, or seen the movie adaptation of the novel starring Gregory Peck, you will already have an idea about what I mean when I say dignity. Atticus is a quiet man, reserved, with impeccable morals and values – and absolutely no propensity to blowing his own horn. It is enough that he knows what sort of man that he is, he does not have to advertise it. Lately, that quality of quiet dignity is in extremely short supply.

I know some Southern ladies who possess it, and exemplify it. I also know a few gentlemen who are fine examples of dignity. I am not one of them. Unfortunately. I would like to be, but I have a real problem being dignified, because part of the definition involves QUIET and RESERVED dignity. I do not exemplify quiet and reserved – not one little bit. If you want to know what I think about something, you won’t have to wait too long to find out, because chances are, I am going to tell you. And, I will usually do so in no uncertain terms.  I have no problems speaking my mind.

That is one of the primary reasons that I did not register for Administration when I enrolled in an advanced degree program, even though I could find one of those close to me at reasonable cost. I do not want to be an administrator, even though I would probably be fairly good at it – at least no worse than any number of administrators I have worked with. I don’t want to do it, because it requires some tact, and some holding of one’s tongue. I don’t want to have to do that. I can do it, I just don’t want to do it. I’d rather tell you exactly what I think, and let the chips fall where they may. As an administrator, I would not be able to do that – speak my mind, that is – because there are always people who think they are special exemptions to every rule and every policy created to allow for reasonable functioning of any facility or organization. And usually, those are the very people who need someone like me to rattle their cages enough to let them know that they are not special exemptions, regardless of whether they think that they are.

I need to find a job like THAT – and dignity be damned.

59: School – YUCK

I am a teacher by profession. That means that I have pretty much been in school for all my life. First, the one I attended for day care, then pre-school, Kindergarten and then ten years of formal schooling in the American public schools, and YEARS of collegiate enrollment which STILL is not over. If I am not working on the school I teach, I am working on the school I am attending.

Teaching involves pre-reading tha lesson material, designing lesson plans, creating lesson handouts and assessments, actually teaching them and conducting the assessments, grading the assignments and the assessments, recording the grades, and returning them to students, discussing them and reteaching when necessary. And that’s only the stuff dealing with the normal school day when no one is absent and has work to make up, or the administrative stuff I have to complete that goes along with running a school.

Being a student is far, far easier. I have to attend class, listen, absorb material (usually by reading), and produce assignments as requested by the deadlines.

However, I have been a student too long. I actually prefer the more difficult and time-consuming teaching rather than the easier learning mode. It is not that I dislike learning new things, as I do enjoy that, very much. I simply have had enough of the student personna. When you are the student, your goal is pleasing the professor so that you achieve a passing score in their course. Often, that means producing a piece of work that you may personally have no interest in. OFTEN. You do it because the professor wants it that way, and being successful at school is the ability to meet the demands of the teacher, to THEIR satisfaction. Probably explains why Einstein sucked at it.

That is the aspect of being a learner that I dislike. I don’t like feeling like I have to toe the philosophical line of someone else’s convictions. And it is far too easy to discern where the professor camps their tent when there is a debate, or more than one point of view, on any particular issue. And frankly, it is not worth the cost of the tuition I paid, not to mention the trouble, of espousing a point of view contrary to the prevailing one (read: the professor’s). I dislike having to retake courses and repay tuition, especially since it is same song, second verse. It is much easier to wait to have a personal opinion until after I have earned the institution’s stupid degree, which is all the employers are looking for: those letters after your name. Once you HAVE a PhD, you can disagree all you like; in fact, there then is some cachet in disagreeing. Until then, you are taking your life in your hands.

And I now have only a few more months of student-hood to suffer through, and I DO mean suffer. My doctoral concept paper committee at the University has said that my proposed research study design does not have enough participants, in spite of the fact that very few of my reference studies hold their research in various locations (most had ONE, like mine) or have many participants (MANY had fewer than I am proposing). And this is like I can magically produce elementary schoolchildren who are willing to participate in my study. All I can do is ask, which I have been doing for  months. But, like  many other stupid professors I have been under (apt mental picture) they want what they want, for the reasons they want it. This means that for the third time, I must redesign and re-research a completely new dissertation research topic. Suffer. Suffer. Suffer.

And when and if I ever actually complete this degree, there is no inducement on this Earth that will tempt me to attend the graduation ceremony. MAIL ME the stupid piece of paper. And no one will EVER see that diploma on my wall – I will photocopy it when I need to prove to an employer that I have it. It has totally LOST any shine, gleam or glimmer of attractiveness it ever held for me. The only attraction it might still hold is the fact that I will earn a little extra money WITH the degree than I now do performing the exact same job without the degree. That’s about it.