Sunday, January 30, 2022

You Have To Believe SOMETHING

When I first recognized that my faith was really slipping away, that this wasn't a phase or a path I could retreat from, I admit I felt a little sense of panic.  For a number of months, I wrestled with the question, "If I am not a Christian, what am I?'  Agnosticism seemed too vague, and I wasn't yet ready to abandon the idea of some form of deity.

So, I started to do some casual research into the more Eastern, meditative, god-as-the-force kind of religions.  For a while, I was becoming very interested in the Bahia faith... but then I read about their negative beliefs concerning homosexuals, and that was an immediate shutdown.

At some point, I realized that I was feeling an obligation to "Believe" something... and that maybe, just maybe, no such requirement existed.

Teaching Is A Conservative Profession

"For a full century now, conservative politicians have attacked teachers to score easy political points. This, despite the fact that teachers, as a group, tend to consider themselves “moderate” (43 percent) or even “conservative” (27 percent), and their political views have long tended to match those of their local communities. Nevertheless, scare tactics about subversive teachers have been too tempting for politicians to resist. But although targeting teachers might score a short-term payoff at the ballot box, those attacks have always harmed public schools by driving teachers away."


This article is an interesting history of political attacks on the teaching profession.  It is funny because, as the article states, the profession itself is fairly "conservative".  Regardless of a teacher's personal religious or political beliefs... they just want to get through the material for the day.  There is enough drama and excitement in a school without trying to create any more of it.

I will say that the present state of affairs is the worst I have seen in my 30 years.  Principals used to have stacks of resumes on their desks from would-be teachers.  Substitutes (mostly wannabe teachers) circled the buildings like vultures looking for an opening, hoping to make a good impression on the staff.

Now, there are no subs.  Principals have to beg and plead for a resume or two.  Universities are scaling back their teaching programs as student applications plummet.

Well, politicians... you have done it.  You used lies, exaggeration, and outliers to enrage the public and fill your campaign accounts.  Schools are holding on by a thread.

Now, what are you going to do?

Sunday, January 02, 2022

The Meaning of Life

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”  -Alan Watts

A friend posted this quote this morning and it tracks perfectly with where I have been at the past few years.  In the religious circles in which I traveled earlier in life, there was great emphasis on "living a life of meaning" and finding your "purpose".  I suppose that doesn't sound bad on the surface, maybe even noble, but what I discovered over time was that it was like, as the book of Ecclesiastes says, "chasing after the wind and feeding on it".  It was never-ending and never satisfying.  It keeps you running on a hamster wheel.

In recent years, I have been learning to let go of the rushing... saying no to the panic.

In the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect saves his friend Arthur from the destruction of the Earth.  When Arthur realizes he can't go back, he asks, "What do I do now?"  Ford shrugs, "You come with me and enjoy yourself."  Ford's suggestion has become my life tagline.

In an episode of Rick and Morty, Rick gives the family a device that allows them to see themselves in other universes - lives in which they had made different choices.  They grow depressed and angry as they see how their lives could have been "better" had they chosen different paths.  Rick tells them they would have been happier watching TV with him and Morty and that they, "clearly backed the wrong conceptual horse."  Later, Morty's sister is going to run away due to her frustration.  Morty gives an explanation of why she should stay and ends it with, “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, and everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.”

For myself, I have spent enough time on the hamster wheel chasing after things and never arriving.  I think Watts had it right.  My time is better spent creating, enjoying, and breathing.  There are good conversations to be had, meals to enjoy, stories to listen to, and walks to take.

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