“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things (Romans 2:1).”
This has been one of those weeks when my patience as a university English teacher has been sorely tested. While I have learned to enjoy students as people (mostly), there are times like the past few days when they get on my nerves.
The week began with excuses from a couple of my students as to why they couldn’t attend class:
“I’m going to Budapest with my fiance'”.
“I’m going to a party of this organization, but hey, I will be speaking English there.”
One of my former colleagues asked rhetorically when I related these comments,”So, what else is new”? I know like her I shouldn’t have been surprised by these excuses because they are part and parcel of what we teachers deal with all the time.
I just wonder why these students can’t look at their schedules before the semester begins. If they did, perhaps they would learn that ‘now” was not the best time to enroll in my courses.
Then there were the physical abuses. Oh, they weren’t intentional, but they were present nonetheless.
In one instance, I was walking in the front door of our main building when I felt a tug at the back end of my shoe. Some young feller had stepped on my heel.
I looked to my left and he just walked by, looking totally self absorbed. No apology, no nuttin’.
A day or two later, I was walking down the hall engaged in a conversation with a student when I felt a nudge on my left shoulder. When I looked, a young man in a jacket, who actually could have been staff, went on by looking left and right and moving like Mr. Bean. Again, no “sorry” was forthcoming.
Somewhere in the midst of this week I began a mild general rant with a couple of my colleagues about our students inability to attend class. One of my fellows looked at me with an amused expression and said,”Calm down, Tim.”
I immediately got his drift and said,”You’re right.” I knew that my frustration over student behavior was boiling over, and that since more than likely the same conduct I have seen for years was not going to change.
Thus, I am not very sympathetic when I read headlines about “boomerang kids” as I have in the last 24 hours. These young people are adults in the 20 to early 30s range who have moved back in with a parent or two.
Yesterday, I read that 6 million American young adults live with their parents. Today, I not only saw an article that says it is actually 15 million, but also read something that says 51 million (!) young people in the European Union (my current workplace) live at home with at least one parent.
In my current mood, I think such things as “What a bunch of lazy bums” or “Get a job”. Yet, this morning my curmudgeonly attitude toward the 20 something has begun to mellow. The reasons for my softening lie in the economic facts of today and also come from some spiritual truth.
The title of one Internet link blares “Recession’s Lost Generation”. The actual article from the Associated Press tells of the bleak economic futures of these young people:
In record numbers, they’re struggling to find work, shunning long-distance moves to live with mom and dad, delaying marriage and raising kids out of wedlock, if they’re becoming parents at all. The unemployment rate for them is the highest since World War II, and they risk living in poverty more than others – nearly 1 in 5.
New 2010 census data released Thursday show the wrenching impact of a recession that officially ended in mid-2009. There are missed opportunities and dim prospects for a generation of mostly 20-somethings and 30-somethings coming of age in a prolonged period of joblessness.
There’s a story in the Bible involving David where perhaps I think he could have used a little compassion. It involved a young Amelikite.
The Amelikite’s were enemies of Israel. In fact, at the time of the story David and his men had just rescued their families from a group of Amelikite raiders (I Samuel 30:1-19).
At about the same time of this incident, King Saul and the Israelites were fighting a losing battle against the Philistines. Saul and his sons were killed and the Israel routed.
An Amelikite showed up at David’s camp with Saul’s crown and his armband. When David asked the Amelikite what had happened, he related this story:
“I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’
“He asked me, ‘Who are you?’
“‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.
“Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’
“So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive.” (II Samuel 1:6-10)
Now the Amelikite thought he was doing David a favor. However, if he had known David’s stance vis a’ vis Saul, he would have not done what he did.
David had had his own chances to knock off King Saul, but had refused. He left judgment to God, who had appointed Saul as leader of Israel.
Thus, after David had spent some time mourning, and presumably mulling over the whole situation, he ordered the young man’s execution. First, however, he double checked where the boy’s national origin. David also asked the young man why he hadn’t been afraid to knock off the king God had appointed (II Samuel 1:13-16).
I am sure the thoughts of a more mature and learned David never occurred to this lad, nor should they have. I think David was being somewhat unjust, at least on a personal level.
Sure the young Amelikite was foolish (Proverbs 18:7). However, foolishness isn’t just the realm of the young foreigner. Even David had seen this truth in the lives of his contemporaries (such as Saul himself and one Nabal (Fool), the former deceased husband of his current wife).
I think most of us, if we are patient, will at least tolerate foolish people (II Corinthians 11:16). However, I think I need to do even more than that: I ought to love them and demonstrate, at least in my heart, some compassion. After all, it’s not as if I had never done anything foolish.
Solomon, the son of David, expressed truth when he wrote, “Even as fools walk along the road, they lack sense and show everyone how stupid they are (Ecclesiates 10:3).” I see this verity every day among the students I work around.
However, they are God’s children and among them are some lovely people. Furthermore, if Iam going to be truthful, I am pretty foolish at times myself.
I am pretty quick to excuse my own less than stellar comportment. I ought to give the 18-34 year old a little bit of the same treatment.
After all, I am a teacher and I should be conveying what I know about life to my students. If I am unwilling to be more patient and less judgmental, I ought to get out of the profession, for their sake and mine.