To say I appreciate the support expressed after my last post is an understatement. I really do and am touched by your kindness.
My conscience has bothered me after posting “Ignorance”. While the teacher’s statements were offensive to me, the teacher in question is really a good guy who has the best intentions. In all fairness, there are areas of life in which I am more ignorant than he. Ignorance is nondenominational.
It would be nice to have a clear enemy, something to blame for the ills of the world, some thing or some one with no redeeming qualities but that is rarely the case. Yet, people often make it so. I know I do. We simplify the issue, the problem. Once blame is assigned I can abdicate responsibility to do anything about it. It seems to be human nature. I constantly struggle against this tendency.
This last week I’ve been confronted with a reality that isn’t easily ignored, nor do I want it to be. It is simply this: My perception, is always limited by the boundaries I imagine in my own mind. My perspective on any problem is confined by my personal biases, beliefs, and experience.
The debates and campaigning for the upcoming election is a perfect example of how this works. I have my mind made up about which side I favor, however, when I listen to the attempts to discredit the opponent, I’m am terribly aware of how inaccurate the opposing arguments often are. Things are taken out of context more times than naught. People see and hear exactly what they want to see and hear. We seem to put our rational abilities on a shelf and react emotionally to all the buzz words and inflammatory rhetoric without any thought as to how easily we are manipulated. And, we are. At least in my view, which is limited at best.
This human tendency is at the heart of every social problem. As long as we invest so much emotional energy into one side versus another, problems will continue to be very difficult to solve. We have to get comfortable with doubt. We need to develop the ability to apply reason to problems and not look for easy targets. We need to question what we are told and measure it against any facts we can find. We need to look into the eyes of our opponents and enemies and see parts of ourselves. We need to open our hearts and our minds and listen to what they have to say for they often carry a piece of the truth. If they are completely off base, well, even the deluded can be guilty of sincerity.
Instead of painting a picture in which a teacher is the obvious bad guy, I could have found a moment or two to quietly approach him and share with him my circumstances. Instead of anger and frustration, I could have approached him with the desire to communicate. Whether or not my words would have any impact is out of my hands and secondary to what I see as my objective. My objective is to try, to be open, to admit to being an exception and presenting myself in a humane and rational manner.
I doubt that anything I could say would change his mind, however, that should not have prevented me from using the opportunity to reach out and connect with him as a fellow human being. In the end, that is all any of us really is, a human being. We get into loads of trouble and lose sight our greater purpose when we forget that simple fact.
I do not hate the teacher. I actually have respect for the strength of his convictions. He is a good man. Objectively, I have some concerns about how he might influence the class but will he be any more of an influence then the students parents, or friends? None of us has the whole picture. None of us knows it all. We must remember this always or we will lose the best part of ourselves at the expense of another.
After my last post, I realized that I had lost a piece of myself, the piece that is concerned about fairness, about honesty, about justice. I did not do the teacher justice and in the process ended up cheating myself as well. Judgmental thinking will do that. I am better than that and it’s time to rise to the occasion. Then and only then can I look into the mirror and respect the image that is looking back at me.