Note to a Disappointed and Discouraged Educator: Education is Our Metaphor and Our Path to Meaning….

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(If things are not hard, then they are easy; and easy never produces anything worthwhile:-)

Dear ________________,

A lesson learned from a bad person or a bad experience; is different from a lesson delivered badly. Truth cannot always be a pleasant experience…. But, it is always an education. People (even in bad ways) are always teaching us; and we should always be in a posture of learning. After an unpleasant experience the question is: “What is the lesson that is to be learned here?” Education may be our chosen profession; but it is also the metaphor for our lives. When I think of Moses, Abraham, the Old Testament prophets, Paul and ultimately Jesus; I think of them in a teaching context. But I also see everyone, at every moment teaching, something. We are teaching in our response to good times; but equally, and just as important, teaching in our response to times of difficulty. Teaching and learning styles are clues to a person’s character; a clue to what they love and fear. Most people “teach” out of a feeling of inadequacy, anger and spiritual incompleteness; it is in a real sense, a lesson in fear. We often must serve as the recipients of real, or perceived past hurts. And for this reason that we should never take their words personally; we are in fact “props” in their tragic life drama. Education is synonymous with growth; of being in a new (perhaps scary), and better place. Education is about learning something you did not know. Learning to master something that previously made you afraid. A challenge to what you believed to be solidly true. To understand something (or someone) that represented a mystery to you. To acquire the skills that would allow one to create the possibility and opportunity of living an authentic and honest spiritual life. Knowing is better than not knowing; ignorance is neither blissful nor helpful in living a full and meaningful life. (The grossly ignorant will loudly and incorrectly proclaim the opposite). But the experience of living in a truth is always better than living in a lie. Ultimately you want to know how people truly feel; how far are they willing to go in service to your well being; how far they will go to hurt you. This may sound strange; (and it came to me after we spoke) but this time is a time of spiritual growth; I know it does not feel like anything good; but it very much is for your good. You are surprised by a response; (“How did I deserve that?”) but truth will emerge from the most untruthful and unexpected places. There is a boldness in wrong thinking and doing that forces it to reveal its true self in spite of the desire of the host to hide bad intentions. Isolation can be insulation against evil intentions. Revolting words can be a revelation to open a door of wonderful expectations. You can learn (and this is the best way) from the mistakes and missteps of others; and of course your own mistakes and missteps. But learning, being educated as to the true state of affairs; as to the true intentions of others; as to who you can really count on in times of difficulty; is not as bad as it feels; in fact it is as good as it can get in this life long school of life. Stay convinced, stay calm, stay confident in the will and work of the Master Teacher of the universe; the good teacher sacrifices for the good of the student (even if that sacrifice is misunderstood or underappreciated); is never robbed by the success of the student, and in fact rejoices in their learning; model this great and wonderful teaching style; and forever stay in that divine teaching-learning moment.