Thursday, April 23, 2015

General Apathy

We have less than a month to go in school and I couldn't be happier (actually I could if Friday was the last day of school, or better yet today had been).  I began thinking about how students just don't care anymore.  Yes, there are a (very) select few who do, but so many just don't care.  Students don't listen.  Students show no respect to the teachers, and neither do the parents.  Teachers are blamed for the students failures.  Students don't care if the fail.  Some students go to school only because their parents make them, and if their parents aren't paying attention, then they just don't come to school at all.  Students think school is just one big social gathering instead of a place of learning.  Most years, I'd blame student apathy on it being close to the end of the school year, but this has been going on all year long.  The problem seems to get worse every year.
As I was thinking about the students, it made me think about other parts of society that just doesn't care anymore.  The parents of kids don't care anymore, and students get their attitude from their parents.  Most parents only seem to care about grades when it comes down to whether or not their child will be eligible to play a sport or not.  The student does nothing to improve their grades, but whine that the teacher is singling them out because the teacher doesn't like athletes or have a personal grudge against the student.  Parents rarely see how spoiled rotten their children are, how hateful their children's attitude is, or just how pure damn lazy their child is.  Instead the fault is with the teacher.  BULLSHIT!!!
But the problem isn't just with parents and students but with society as a whole.  In churches, ministers and deacons don't go see parishioners when they are in the hospital.  Neighbors don't check on one another anymore.  In the South, people would often go out of their way to be friendly, but you're lucky if someone holds a door open anymore.  Most times people will rush to beat you to the door and then do their best to make sure it closes before you get there.
Then we get to politicians.  Take for example the Alabama legislature.  Instead of spending money and passing a budget that makes sense, or even raise taxes when it is necessary, they decide to drastically cut the state budget.  Here are a few things the Alabama legislature is proposing to do:
-- As many as 25 Army National Guard armories would close and the National Air Guard wings in Birmingham and Montgomery would have diminished capabilities.
-- The loss of as many as 1,625 Army National Guard soldiers and 170 Air National Guard airmen.
-- The Environmental Protection Agency would take over water-related functions of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, resulting in 148 layoffs and delays and over-regulation that would hurt business.
-- The Department of Corrections would close Ventress Correctional Facility and Red Eagle Honor Farm, forcing relocation of 2,000 inmates, increasing prison overcrowding and eliminating 159 state jobs.
-- Courts would have to lay off more than 600 employees and probably close for two days a week.
-- State law enforcement would lose 99 state troopers, 25 investigators and eight Capitol police officers.
--Close 15 of the 22 state parks, and putting 600 state park employees out of a job.
-- Thirty-three of 78 stand-alone driver's license offices would close.
-- The Department of Human Resources would lose $190 million in federal funds, resulting in more than 15,000 children losing subsidized child care and more than 30,000 children losing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.
Not to mention that the governor has cost the state millions of dollars by refusing to expand Medicaid and forcing thousands to be without any form of insurance, just because he and Alabama Republicans hate the president.  Why don't we first cut the $1.6 million salaries of the nine Alabama Supreme Court justices who don't even understand the laws they have sworn to uphold, and before they lay off 600 court employees, they need to cut the over $108 million in salaries for Alabama judges, who like to play willy nilly with the law, ignoring it when it suits their political agenda.  And let's not forget the over $6 million paid to probate judges who refuse to perform their duties (marriage certificates and wedding), not because the state constitution requires them to perform these duties, but because their "morals" (ahem, BIGOTRY & HOMOPHOBIA) tell them not to do so, even though higher federal courts have told them to do so.
Nobody seems to care anymore.  It's all about what they can get out of it, not how they can help others.  I was going over something for a test on Christianity for my world history students.  It's a passage from Matthew 25: 31-46:
31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
     I was hungry and you fed me,
     I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
     I was homeless and you gave me a room,
     I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
     I was sick and you stopped to visit,
     I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
41-43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
     I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
     I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
     I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
     I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
     Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
I fear that many people int he world today are headed to eternal doom, but few to their eternal reward.  We've forgotten how to care about and for one another.  I still try to inspire my students and push them to do better.  I go next door to check on my neighbors, often taking them dinner, especially when I've cooked too much.  I hold the door open for other people.  By no means am I saying that I'm perfect.  I am far from it, but I try every day to live a better life.  Sometimes, I get so discouraged that I fail, but I pick myself (and the person I may have "knocked down") up and try again.  I still get discouraged by those who don't care,  the their are days when someone shows such great kindness, someone helps me with medical bills or a friend sends me a little gift or a card to brighten my day, and my faith in humanity is restored.


Michael Dodd said...

My own interpretation of the parable is this: Those who live without care for others already live in the hell created by their attitudes. Those who care for others are living in the kingdom of God now.

Those who choose not to care today are not going to be doomed. They are doom. Which makes them suffer more and, unfortunately if they do not find the light, makes them care less about others as they thrash around seeking to free themselves from the net they have woven around their spirits.

It is hard not to weave that trap, as we both know when we suddenly (by grace?) see ourselves spinning angrily away at our own threads.

When I used to get frustrated by those of my students who did not seem to care about anything, I took comfort in the handful of those who did care and who were already making their world and mine a better place.

I hope a total stranger gives you the gift of a smile today. And that you are doing the same for others.

Ciao, bello! ;-)

Joe said...

I agree with you Michael. I think those who are already living in doom because they do not care, just wallow in that soon and want others to suffer as well. We just have to each do our part to make the world a better place and not get bogged sow in other people's doom.

I do try to take solace in those students who truly care and want to do their best. I also take comfort in people like you who do care and are always there with an encouraging word. Thanks you.

Susan said...

Hi Joe,

The thought that kept going through my mind as I read your excellent piece was: these kids will find out soon enough the time they have wasted not taking the opportunity to learn when they are out of school and trying to support themselves. Yours is so often a thankless job, made all the more difficult when the adults who should care do not support you. Thank God there are some students who can still remind you why you wanted to be a teacher. (((Hugs)))

Anonymous said...

This is nothing new. I quit high school teaching in 1973, more or less for the exact reasons you have cited.

Not that I did not like some of the kids. I thought maybe I was just a lousy teacher, but am certain you are anything but.

It sounds like the same culural cancer in my area (DC suburbs) has spread to Alabama, but unfortunately the bad aspects, like racism and homophobia have remained.

Unknown said...

Oh wow. I get this. 100%. I just don't get where we are today.

I had a lady today ask me for help at the gas station. I was happy to take a few minutes to help her find the gas release in her rental car. It cost me nothing to be nice. So I was!

I've also decided that a smile is the way to go. It is so easy to be nice.

Working in education, I see much of what you do. I focused on the ones that cared, and let the others fall where they may. It's harsh, but it kept my sanity.

I love your biblical reference. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you. I needed it.

Peace <3