“Blocked your message.”
“How can you be a Christian and support Donald Trump?”
“So, you support Donald Trump? Wow! You must be a white supremacist!”
“You don’t believe the colonization of the United States was the largest “cultural bomb” our nation has faced?!”
“You didn’t vote for Hilary Clinton? You didn’t vote for Donald Trump? Well, you writing in your name for President means you did vote for Donald Trump!”
“You’re not wrong. You are BAD!”
“You actually believe the United States of America is the greatest nation in the world? You are xenophobe. I don’t like you anymore.”
“You actually believe that it is wrong for NFL players to sit during the National Anthem to show their protest of police brutality? You are a bad person. I don’t like you anymore.”
Today, my life as a white, heterosexual, married, Christian male who is a public-school teacher and a musician. There hasn’t been a time more now or since January 20, 2009 when I felt being a white, heterosexual, married, Christian male who is a public school teacher and musician would be a “bad” thing / “negative” thing.
On October 5, 2016, I was brought into the meeting room in the school’s administration office to listen to a complaint about me. “We hear you are socially engineering our students. Pushing your agenda. You know that is terribly unprofessional.”
Unfortunately, my NEW usual response to the accusation of “unprofessional” is, “This is the first I have heard this. This parent complaint goes to the level of meeting with the principal, assistant principal and union president. Who complained?”
“We can’t tell you. They think you will have retribution.” The standard answer for today’s administrator and the parents.
“Well, I can tell you that is not happening.”
“We would like you to stop using “NEW YORK BEST SELLING AUTHOR” for your student leadership training. We hear the material you are presenting is Christian in nature and as you know, Paul, that is not welcomed on a public-school campus.”
My response was strong. “That is not the case. I have used the “NEW YORK BEST SELLING AUTHOR” information for the last nine years at _____ High School. Not one complaint until now and now there is one complaint, you are telling me to stop using his material?”
“Yes, that is what we are telling you. There are other well-known authors / leaders you can use.”
Needless-to-say, I decreased the number of lunch-time meetings. I was so appalled that one parent could stop using the NEW YORK BEST SELLING AUTHOR’S material. Stop using material and not even see how the information is being used. Stop using the material and the school’s leadership and most likely that complaining parent not even read one book from cover-to-cover. Stop using the material because the NEW YORK BEST SELLING AUTHOR is a retired … pastor. Oh, that is the problem. He is a retired pastor and therefore, everything he does is Christian in nature and therefore, it is bad / inappropriate for public schools. IGNORANT. I never felt so insulted … until later that semester. I knew the material I used is SECULAR that I asked the CEO to write a letter on my behalf supporting my use of the SECULAR material written by the former pastor. That letter was denied. Ignored.
There is a great program for high school students to visit Washington, DC. Well, this year the program was even more great because there was an opportunity to attend the inauguration parade for President Trump. Through mostly social media, we got to “hear” how “interesting” it was to be there for such a “controversial” president’s inauguration. Interesting to see photos of Bernie Sanders / Elizabeth Warner taken by and / or with the students. No photos of more “conservative” politicians? (Sarcasm) Then, the photos of the _______ High School students attending the “Women’s March” the day following the Inauguration Parade. Holding “protest signs.” Seeing all those photos of _____ High School and hearing what was being said by the event’s speakers really bothered me. This the first I have said anything publicly about how bothered I was.
I am sure the teacher who took the students to those important events did not receive the similar meeting I received on October 5th. She wasn’t pushing a “social agenda.” Or… she was pushing the acceptable “social agenda.” What the teacher did in attending the “Women’s March” holding “protest signs” was a positive. Since 2008 at High School, what I was doing (using the NEW YORK BEST SELLING AUTHOR leadership material / volunteering my lunches to teacher leadership principles) was pushing a social agenda? Yet, what this teacher did in having her students attend the “Women’s March” carrying signs is seen as NOT pushing a social agenda and is acceptable? In the end, it is only pushing a social agenda when agendas collide.
On February 10, 2017 school district wide meeting for professional development, the High School students did the team-building activity for us teachers. It is “sweet” to see the high school students leading their teachers in team-building (not really … and here is why).
“So, what it is going to happen is we are going to ask y’all a question and if you think you have the funniest answer to the question, raise your hand and we will come by with the microphone and hear your answer. You understand?” says the High School student. Teachers giggle. Begin to talk to one another.
The High School student begins, “Okay… so here is the question: If you were on a time machine, where would you like to visit?”
Now, the teachers are talking. Giggling. Laughing. Having fun. Here comes the first answer from a teacher. At the DISTRICT professional development day. Here comes the witty answer. In front of High School students. “If I were on a time machine, I would visit any time prior to January 20, 2017!” The audience (teachers and high school students) roared with laughter and applause! Not me. I felt very uncomfortable! I thought, “if that was me and I said something similar, “any time prior to January 20, 2009,” I would have had a quiet response and possibly a boo or two. I may have been labeled a “racist.” I would have been, at the least, shunned.
The attached article by Dennis Prager is liberating for me. I am a Marrano. I will admit it. I am the conservative who watches every word / action I take at work / public to appear to be thoroughly entrenched in the liberal world. There is much I agree with the liberal world, but if I shared those views, the number of topics I agree with would be NOT ENOUGH for the liberal world and probably too many topics of agreement for the conservative world. I do tend to lean to be the “reasonable-conservative” … my favorite description of me! Even, as I am writing this for all of you, I really am doing all I can not to jeopardize my job / career as a public school music teacher. I LOVE MY PROFESSION / MY JOB! I would love to share more with you. However, from Mr. Prager’s article: One musician in Minnesota wrote to me: “I was a professional musician from the age of 17. I wanted you to know that I, too, lost my career because of my views. My choice, actually; I just could no longer take the abuse. That statement does give me concern that I could lose my career by sharing this blog with you. So, I will continue to be careful. If not losing my career, definitely will get the rolling-of-the-eyes or be shunned.
My conservative vision of the world is not welcomed in public education. I get it. What is NOT WELCOMED in public education: WE ARE 100% RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY CHOICE WE MAKE. That is not welcomed. I am certain the parent who complained about the use of the NEW YORK BEST SELLING AUTHOR is the same parent who disagrees with the following: I BELIEVE LIFE IS 10% WHAT HAPPENS TO ME – 90% HOW I RESPOND. No. This parent believes in fifty-fifty. Whatever you do to me is the reason for my response. That is definitely public education / liberal. In many liberals’ thought process, I need to be responsible for your reaction / response to what I say or what I do. NO! I am not responsible for your reaction / response for what I say or do! If you are insulted by a joke I make, that is YOUR CHOICE! Yet, I will be penalized because you FEEL insulted by a joke. Interesting. A feeling is a choice and I am held responsible for your choice.
I would also add… being a band director… we have fundraisers. Thanks to the ACLU, no student must participate in a fundraiser or give money for a school-sponsored trip! That is not a conservative belief. It is collectivism. It is definitely a more “socialist” culture, than a “capitalist” culture. My thinking / a more conservative thinking: If a student wants to go on a trip, that student needs to pay for the trip and / or help raise the money to go on a trip. ACLU says that (student must pay for / help raise money) is inappropriate / ILLEGAL. So, a student can go on a school sponsored trip and not give or raise one-cent for the trip. Look forward to hearing how that decision is “healthy.” What does that teach students? I will follow the law.
In the end, I PRAY for:
1). our nation to return to common sense.
2). disagreement doesn’t lead to “de-friending” / “blocking messages.”
3). our children will be more mature than us in the sense we will disagree on issues and that is okay and I am responsible for every choice I make.
4). living in community that reflects the following:
From Romans 12:19-21 THE MESSAGE: “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t’ insist on getting even; that is not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
In this part of my prayer, ANTIFA / BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, find non-violence actions in your response to what / who you disagree with.
5). My message with this blog does good and does not do harm to me or those closest to me
6). AND FINALLY, dear Lord Jesus… please allow us who live a conservative life be able to work alongside those who disagree with us and will be allowed to be open with our conservative life style as those who are “championed” for being on the liberal side.