“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20
Yesterday the kids came running out of school saying, “We can wear whatever we want tomorrow! Street clothes because the teachers might throw rocks at us!” After doing a little “no uniform” jig, the moms asked for further explanation. The public school teachers are on strike (this has happened several times since we have been here), they are gathering around fomenting dissatisfaction in public places, and they might be provoked by the sight of private school kids going to classes in their uniforms and throw rocks at them. This is nuts. Societal ills gone awry.
You can feel an undercurrent of anger and depression here– a sense of injustice is right below the surface. Very few people smile. If someone is standing in the middle of the street and my driving through causes them to move, they glower at me as I pass. It feels like they blow up about everything. They are ready at every moment to be offended and to demand their rights. Literally, as I start to pass out worksheets in my classroom, the kids in the back start complaining because they don’t have their paper yet. They will walk up to the front of the classroom where I have started to distribute the papers and demand to have theirs before I reach their seat. Will’s patients will not leave his office until they receive the tests they feel they need.
I will confess to feeling anger, maybe more in the last year and half than ever. Because so many things don’t make sense, because you feel so helpless to change things in “the system,” because I think the way some people reason is stupid, honestly, I get angry. I got so upset the other day while teaching my seventh graders and it grieves me to feel that red hot lava travel from my gut to my head.
So I want to say that I sympathize. It feels very much like the power is out of your hands. It feels like others want to trample on you if they can. It feels like you must push to get what you need. But, we see the results of what happens if everyone suspects everyone else, if everyone starts pushing. It is tragic. It leads to teachers throwing rocks at kids trying to go to classes and unutterably horrible things as well. As I write, I can hear teachers chanting outside. God, help us. You are our only hope. Please heal societies all over the world. Better yet, come establish Your kingdom.
After writing the above post, I went to the plaza to try to get a picture of the striking teachers. One of my friends in town, Monica, who is a state school teacher, came over to talk. She said that she is not in support of the strike, but that if she does not come sit in the plaza, attending the “meeting,” the other teachers will be upset with her. She and her husband own a paper supply shop and she said that they cannot work there until after school hours without breaking the strike. Monica told me that often the administrators or the school big wigs on a national level call a strike, make demands for more pay, receive a bribe or higher pay for themselves, and then call off the strike. She said that the actual teachers rarely see any benefit to the days on strike. She ended by saying, “I disagree (with the strike), but my saying something is like throwing a stone in a sack with a hole.” Good expression for how they must feel.