Bird Droppings March 12, 2020
Teaching and life are simply feeding wolves
As I opened my computer this morning a virus leads the news stories. A year ago, the numerous news stories and jokes were addressing the college guidance company that was busted for getting wealthy kids into college for money. Today we are faced with a pandemic and a year ago it was college entrance cheating. I recall the urban myths of a college SAT test taker who would be using fake ID take an SAT for you and get whatever score you wanted. He now has surfaced in this circus of events and is a real person. Perhaps what bothers me the most is now the idea of going to college is tarnished further since it shows how if you have money anything is possible. Greed and power rule evidently in our world. It has taken almost two months for our president to realize he cannot intimidate a virus. Viruses do not care about money or stock markets.
I am teaching in a school that is socioeconomically on the lower end of the scale. I see kids who eat at school as their meals of the day. If school closes many kids will be hungry. If schools close many children will lose the only stabilizing force in their world. I am sitting pondering twenty days of lessons. I was in a conversation this week with a student about whether they would have a place to go home too and or a parent to go home too. Mark Cuban is upset about the NBA canceling games. He might lose some money. Investors in the world of stock markets are worried and oil companies who take money from the government already are asking for more because their profit margins are down. Suggestions for doing this or that to stimulate the economy. I wonder why travel is banned from all European countries except ones with certain golf courses?
I watched a video or series of videos from one of the children of the wealthy parents busted this past week in college scheme. “She was in college for parties and football games” according to her testimony. A teenager who was making a load of money doing Instagram and Utube. She did not care about education only money and fame. Her sponsors left but as I listened to the five or so minutes of her parading around her dorm room bragging about her lifestyle and in a later segment apologizing for being a brat essentially, I wondered about parenting and basically stayed up thinking last night about students I have now who have seen this on the news. I saw a Facebook post from a student I know from a few years back enjoying watching the wealth of a certain area and desiring to be like that. The confusion of the world is at hand and we keep putting on band-aids.
I have heard and seen this in many forms. “One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a debate that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.’” From Jodie Schmidt, 2005
Many years ago, in my travels and in reading emails I read this story sent by a friend. Only a few days ago it was on Facebook. As I read over this short story and by chance, I was thinking about how children respond to various situations. We adults then commend or condemn them, feed them. Those two words are so closely spelled yet so far apart in meaning and understanding. Yesterday morning a young lady came in and was visibly upset but more of a moping kind of upset. It seems her boyfriend and she was sort of at odds. I shared the Thomas Merton quote I have hanging on my wall and have used here so many times.
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we see in them.” Thomas Merton
I asked the young lady to look up Merton and see some of his other writings and who he was which she did before school and then she left with a copy and a Kent Nerburn book, Calm Surrender. As we talked I thought of this quote about the wolves inside of us and how we all are fighting as she told me of conflicts in her life and in her boyfriends.
Several days back my wife and I were discussing kids as we tend too and the topic of learned behavior came up. We teach kids through our actions and inactions and yet we then punish them for the same exact thing. An attorney was on TV saying parents who knew kids were drinking at a party at their house should not be held responsible for any actions of drunken teenagers. The discussion was on a point, counterpoint discussion and then the other side mentioned that the person who was involved in the accident had been arrested previously for DUI and the parents knew that so there was a history established.
So I sat listening to this back and forth, an underage drinking party led to a teenage driver killing a child. The underage drinker who was driving had left the party at that particular parent’s home with their knowledge he was drunk and had been drunk previously, both parties were found guilty. On the one hand, the defense attorney was saying kids will be kids and on the other a dead child.
I look back at the story in which wolf is being fed. We are responsible as teachers, as parents and we and others need to be more actively involved in keeping such situations from happening. Whether it be teenage love or teenage drinking there is harm being done around the corner and often under our noses. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)