(15) Three Young Men

Sitting in the principal’s office for the third time, my anxiety was kicking in as I waited for our meeting to begin.  The clock on the computer flashed 7:13 AM; it was early in the morning and the building was still cold.  I was warming my hands by blowing on them when the principal walked in.  I got goosebumps….

“I owe you an apology.”

Removing her mask; in what I perceived as sign of softening, the principal sat down and continued, “I’m a tiny, frosty-haired, old lesbian…perhaps that makes me a little rough around the edges….regardless…I haven’t been really nice to you while you have been here.  I say this not to make excuses, rather to simply state the facts.”

I smiled, taking off my own mask and continued to listen to the principal, Samantha, talk, “Your students love you.  I don’t pretend to understand everything you are doing with them, but I was inspired the other day to go and read that manifesto of yours…you know-that thing that got you this grant in the first place.  A lot of what you said about technology, and education failing to keep up, makes a lot of sense.”

Despite feeling nauseous at the reference of this writing of mine, the compliment warranted a response, “Thank you,” I said, “Honestly though, I can’t even remember everything I wrote back then…I’m a little embarrassed that you were able to find it.”

“That’s the internet for you Mr. J, you should know that better than anyone, am I right?” She laughed.

Moving on, Principal Sam continued, “I was there the other day when you suggested to Mr. Henry that advanced mathematics should be an elective in schools….”  

Remembering the conversation, a feeling of embarrassment resurfaced.   

“As you could tell by his heated response-I don’t really know if the world is ready for all of your ideas quite yet,” she concluded. 

That altercation with Mr. Henry had helped me recognize why I did not like the man-he took himself too seriously;  “I’m right and your wrong….I’m big and you’re small-and there is nothing you can do about it!” All my life people like him had made me feel stupid so they could feel smart and I had finally learned to avoid letting people do that to me whenever possible.

Not telling the principle any of this internal monologue of mine, but responding nonetheless I said, “You’re right, I beat myself up for saying that…I’m usually really good at editing what I say…something I’ve had a lot of practice with.”

Looking like she understood what I meant, the tiny, frosty-haired, old lesbian continued to open up to me, “I know that I often sound like a broken record, but getting these kids to graduate has been my number one priority since I began working here.  It is what I was trained for, and what I need to accomplish in order feel successful.”  As if she was thinking about something she added, “Perhaps it’s not the most important thing.”

No one spoke for a moment as we both considered the words that escaped her mouth…

“If you tell anyone I said that…I will deny it completely!” she said smiling again.  

I appreciated her confiding in me at that moment, and had decided that this was as good a time as any to ask the question that was drilling away at me, “Have you heard anything about funding yet?”

Grabbing some papers off the printer, she threw them in my direction.  I reached down to see what they were.  It was a printout of an email correspondence between Principal Sam and someone that I did not recognize.  I did not need to know who it was to understand what I had just read.

“Your last day is January 22nd, the last day of term 2,” she said, as she saw I had completed my reading.

My heart sank.  I knew that the chances were slim that my program would see additional funding- the year had just been too chaotic.   Add to that, the fact that I had not heard from Mr. Bernard in a long time had me planning for the worst for a while now.  Still, I had held out some hope for a miracle.  One that I now understood would not materialize.  

……………

Week 15- (12.18.20) – “The 3 Young Men”

Earlier in the year I brought you into the future with one of these weekly articles and got myself in a little trouble.  Let’s try it again and hope for a little better outcome. 

….

In a galaxy far-far away three young men; The Joker, The Believer, and The Thinker, laid in front of their screens preparing to watch their favorite show: “The New News”

“Hello everyone, today’s date is December 17th, 2028.  Thank you for joining us on this Sunday evening…we promise you won’t regret it.  Before we begin…let’s get the disclaimers out of the way, shall we?”

Out of all of the shows segments the disclaimers was The Joker’s favorite part.  He leaned in mischievously to listen…

“The reports you are about to hear are only one network’s analyses of the situation at hand.  Please understand that all news is biased and that what you hear is influenced by certain individuals’ agendas.  With that being said, there are many things that you will want to investigate individually…as always, we encourage this.  We are here to mold your mind…and to sell you shit.  With these truths out of the way, today’s Sunday Roast is brought to you by ‘O’Hare Air’ and ‘The Extender,’ reminding you to become the man you never were…”

The Joker giggled louder than the other two boys as a cartoon commercial for ‘The Extender’ played on their screens.   What they watched would be better described as a short skit rather than a commercial. It lasted about seven minutes.  Too long for a commercial, but just long enough for a show.  Studies had been done concluding that the attention span of individual’s was decreasing drastically.  For a long time, people understood this to be a negative consequence of technology.  However, recent cognitive brain analysis had discovered that the human mind’s capabilities were accelerating as a result of the constant barrage of having more and more thrown at it.  This reality was detrimental to anything that required a long attention span-but had benefits in other areas.  It was advertisers who first recognized this new reality and adapted accordingly…in order to sell people more shit….

The day’s skit came to a hilarious conclusion.  Fading to black…the words “The Sunday Roast” materialized from the darkness on screen. 

This segment of the show sent an individual named Brett Fever across the globe to different countries to report on what was happening in the world.  It was not intended to be ‘news’ like ‘current events’, but more of a report on what was occurring psychologically to individuals in far off lands.  

The words on the screen were replaced by a clip from an old classic movie called ‘Armageddon’.  This was The Believer’s favorite part of the show.  He leaned in excitedly to watch…

The thrilling visuals from this movie were followed by a another classic scene from the 1953 film “The War of the Worlds.”  It looked ancient to the eyes watching it, yet the fear expressed on the faces of the actors was understandable to the young minds in attendance.  The Believer watching always feared what was out in the vastness of space.  The idea that a far-off civilization would one day come, and attack, made perfect sense to this imaginative mind.  Once the scene from the old movie came to a close a montage of films displaying the end of the world appeared as a rolodex on screen- taking the viewer through all of Hollywood’s attempts to make money by entertaining our minds with the belief that a catastrophic end to the world was imminent.  

Brett Fever now appeared on screen with a man in a yellow robe, “Sir, could you please tell us what the word Apocalypse means to you?”

Speaking a foreign language and assisted by captions across the bottom of the screen, this man described a “Period of awakening for all humanity across the globe.”  

What he described was awe-inspiring and heartwarming.  Though most eyes that were watching had always understood this word to mean something different, they-for a moment-wondered if perhaps they could have been mistaken.  As this segment came to a close, The Believer smiled, wondering to himself, “What If….”

After a brief pause, the viewer was brought back from this far off land and into the living room of Evelyne and Brodie.  This was the shows final segment and was called, “Mind-Molders.”  During which the two hosts discussed how entertainment was shaping society.  Today they would be discussing Netflix’s most successful series ever created.    This was The Thinker’s favorite part of the show.  He leaned in interestedly to watch…

“Shia Labeouf…I don’t think we can give this actor enough credit.  What would this show be without him?” asked Evelyne, opening up the discussion.

“Yes, but has the show made him, or, has he made the show- is my question?” responded Brodie.

Nodding her head in agreement, Evelyne spoke into the camera, “Regardless of what you think about this main character, the fact is this show has become the most watched show on television…EVER.  In today’s world, with such a wide offering of entertainment, this reality makes the achievement even more impressive- if not unbelievable.  In our segment today we will be discussing how this sitcom is shaping our society right now.”

The two hosts covered the evolution of the show over the past few years.  Brodie enlightened the viewers with the story of where the idea for the show came from, and why it was immediately a hit.  Evelyne provided a brief introduction to all of the shows characters and explained why they were so relatable.  The formula for the show was easy to explain; the mix of drama, humor, and education made it captivating to a very wide audience.  But, as these two hosts would explain, it was the “hope” it sprinkled the viewer with that made it a truly transformative piece of entertainment.  

“You know the show…but today we are going to tell you the story of how Shia Labeouf became The Teacher….”

Watching how this transformation happened in the real world, The Thinker dreamt of what he could accomplish. 

“Could I really change the world?” he thought to himself; as he was being shown how one person actually had done it.

It was not just him that was presenting himself with this ridiculous question.  The Joker, The Believer, and The Thinker were joined by every person that was watching this show to wonder….What If….

Week 15- Question for Reflection:  

Can a person change the world?

(Click here to continue to next chapter of the journey)

Music for Transcending Minds:

“These are my dreams that I’d never lived before.”

So Far Away by Staind. 

Follow us on Facebook: @SocialRecovery101
Read our story at: RecoveryHighSchool.com

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