Arriving at the end of our fourth week, the students and I were back on the computer.
Earlier in the week I promised them we would spend the class on Friday listening to their music. This was a result of them telling me that my music choices for the articles each week continued to be “sucky.” Lauryn would be choosing next week’s song; an agreement was already made-though I did require that her choice have lyrics that meant something and could not include sex or drugs (whatever, maybe I’m old and lame).
As it was now Friday, Nel was currently playing music from his cube on the screen. I had turned it into a class by making them discuss the lyrics after we listened to each of their song choices. It was very entertaining class period to say the least!
“Is there anything else we should talk about before we run out of time today?” I asked when Nel’s song had ended (I was desperately trying to get away from the music for the last ten minutes of class).
Pras jumped in, excited, “Yeah…Big Orange tested positive- you obviously heard the news right Mr. J?”
Nodding I said, “Yes Pras…I did hear that.” (How in the world could anyone not know that the President of the United States had contracted Covid?)
“He’s faking!” Pras declared to us on screen. “It’s all part of a plan to get himself elected again. Just watch…he’s gonna recover and then next week he’s gonna sign an executive order for another stimulus deal-giving us all another check so that we will vote for him next month…. He’s literally gonna buy himself another four years in office-watch!”
Damnit, I thought, wishing I would have just stuck with the crappy music. There was nothing I disliked more than talking politics.
Nel jumped in, ready to fight, “Don’t be an ass Pras. Do you realize how much Trump has done for this country? Show him some respect. I hope you’re right…I hope he does find a way to win…we need him right now more than ever.”
“Even if he has to lie and cheat to get re-elected?” Pras asked Nel through the screen.
“He is a winner. Always has been,” spoken like a true soldier of FoxNews, Nel punched his opinion home, “Americans win, that’s what we do-he is a true American hero!”
Slightly throwing up in my mouth, but maintaining my poker face, I just listened as Pras punched back, “Nel, I love you buddy, but you are the reason people hate this country.” (ouch)
Lauryn then jumped into the conversation to put the men in their place, “You are both fucking morons. None of it matters. Don’t fall for the voodoo. It’s all rigged…it always has been. Money runs this country. The president is simply a pawn used by the rich.”
A break in the action made it clear that it was my turn to step in, “Alright my friends…let’s play nice.”
One of the advantages of not teaching at school was that I did not have to listen to staff talk about all of this. I needed to squash this conversation in its tracks so that we could all maintain our sanity before the weekend began, “Do any of you care to know what I think?”
This was a set-up, which they walked into perfectly by shutting up and waiting for me to speak, “If there is one thing you remember me telling you in this class it is this,” pausing for theatrical purposes I waited and then spoke very slowly, and very clearly, so that they wouldn’t miss it, “If you want to change the world…don’t enter politics.”
Week 4- (10.2.20) – “P.A.I.N. through Doubt”
Last week’s article, ‘Life’s Puzzle’ discussed struggle and how every human being experiences it in one way or another. Today we will move forward in this class by focusing on one word: ‘Doubt.’
The last piece of writing you received from me was very ‘philosophical.’ Sometimes this can discourage many people as it can lead to debates over who is ‘smarter’ or ‘wiser’ than the other. With that said, let me make a quick disclaimer: As we take this journey together there is one thing you must keep in mind about me as your teacher: I am often very insecure. Because of this, I avoid conflict and controversy in my life as often as possible. While I could get angry about why I am this way I have instead learned to embrace it and try to have faith that it will one day serve a purpose in my life.
Why do I bring this up?
Well, because today I want to take a step back from philosophical discussion and tell you a story. The story is about a boy, a man, and a woman.
The boy in this story grew up doubting that his life would ever surmount to anything. As a child he believed that there was nothing special about him. In the early years of his life, the one emotion that many believe is the purpose for living was non-existent. This boy did not know love. He did not know what it felt to be loved or even what it was to love. In a world that we say is magical, this boy only knew P.A.I.N.
The man in our story had become like a king in early childhood. People all over the world admired him and his rise to fame. Unfortunately, this man felt as if he was simply playing a character in someone else’s story. What he said, was not how he felt. What he did, was almost always not his choice. This man lived most of his life doubting that people would ever respect him for who he really was. In a world so fake, this man only felt P.A.I.N.
It doesn’t make sense yet but both this boy and this man were brought to life by this woman. A woman with a dream. Unfortunately, the world she lived in did not think kindly of people with dreams. Because of this, this woman was destined to suffer. People told her that even if she could write a book or make a movie, no one would understand a world that only existed in her mind. As others doubted her, she was forced over and over to doubt herself. In a world so real, this woman only saw P.A.I.N.
The boy, the man, and the woman will forever be connected to one another.
One without the other would have each and every one of us living in a world much different than the one we now know. In order for us to have gotten here, each of these three had to experience P.A.I.N. In their P.A.I.N., there was common ingredient; doubt.
The boy in this story is Harry Potter, I think you know him. The man is Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played Harry Potter in the movies. And the woman is J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter.
Living under the stairs, Harry Potter doubted that anyone even cared he existed. Living on top of the entertainment world, Daniel Radcliffe doubted that anyone really appreciated him for who he really was. Living in poverty, J.K. Rowling doubted that anyone would ever respect the dreams she held in her mind.
The point of telling you this story is to help you recognize that doubt is part of life.
Many of us grow up learning certain things. We learn these things from our parents, from our teachers, from society, from television, from movies, from books, from the internet (from me). We are told how things are, and how things work. As a result, we expect certain things in life. When things do not seem to make sense with our pre-conceived beliefs, doubt creeps into our mind. Some people doubt themselves; some naturally doubt others.
Doubt is ‘ever present’ in our lives; it never goes away. Even for those approaching the end of life, doubt is there. Questions will always haunt our minds. What is the meaning of life? Or, what comes next?
As human beings, the result of doubt can often lead to feelings of anger. We get frustrated with ourselves, with others, with the world, with ‘life.’
If it is natural to doubt, then it is natural to become angry. That is how the cycle works.
Do you agree?
Whether or not you do, let me leave you with one last piece of advice: Whatever you are going through today, do not let the muggles get you down…this world needs Y-O-U!
Week 4- Question for Reflection:
Who can you relate to more; the boy, the man, or the woman? Why?