To Fight is Noble

To Fight is Noble December 14, 2019

Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport that the world affords.

Most excellent friends in California shocked me today by sending a bronze art piece (1920!)  of Theodore Roosevelt, a president I much admire, for The School. This gift was wonderfully timed.

These are weary times in education where wearisome bureaucrats, often decent folk with limited imaginations, labor to dismantle education in the name of pragmatism while simultaneously  embracing the ideology of the spirit of our age. Thus, in the name of “pragmatic education’ the result is bloated administration, part-time professors and teachers paid unsustainable wages, all financed by students debt. The good is dimmed, the bad boosted.

Against the shadow of that hideous strength, Babel dimming argument with jargon, there must be aggressive fighting for the true light.

Read the plaque.

Yet pugnacious Theodore understood that the good fight must be conducted with joy. We are not against student debt as much as we are for liberty. We oppose administration, because endless meetings, unreadable binders of studies, pablum “best practices,” and expensive consultants (a fig leaf to cover failure) are tedious, dull, unusable, boring, and mindless.

Instead, we seek wisdom, virtue, but do so with joy.

Wisdom cries out, asks questions, and the answers lead to more questions. Wondering is wonderful as this endless process of growth can last for all eternity. There is always more in a cosmos built on love, more to learn. Against the false diversity that comes from administrators comes the splendid endless diversity of God’s Kingdom. We limit our opinions to “this, but now add that.” God allows infinite variations from eternal forms that can never be captured in a binder, because the folks, the many tribes, nations, and individuals as numberless as the sand of the sea, cannot be contained.

The temptation when we see a problem in education is to hire the solution. We lack numbers: hire a numbers consultant. We lack creativity: hire the Sub-Warden for Creativity. We fear that some are excluded (evil!) then pay a Sub-Warden for Inclusion. This always fails.

Why?

It is joyless, because it is law bound. Bureaucracy is graceless, because it must fit the true diversity of each soul into a handbook, manual, human resource guide. No human, no culture, can be so reduced and so the result is always Adminsplaining: the administrator will end up explaining just what being human in such-and-such a way is and must be.

God help us!

This is the opposite of wonder in the face of someone unknown.

All of these words might be dismissed as flowery Platonisms if Roosevelt had not continued:

. . .results worth having can only be achieved by men who combine worthy ideals with practical good sense. 

Just so.

Note that the educrat will suffer declining enrollment, balloon student debt, or depart from the faith of our Mothers and Fathers in the Faith (slowly, incrementally, regretfully), but the response to failure will not be real change but more administrators, fewer teachers, less ministry, and more studies.

The educrat can maintain the system created by someone else for a time until that system is run into the ground.

Should we then give up?

No.

There are many good teachers, professors who labor quietly against all odds to educate, maintain, grow, and plan for better days. Even when they fail in terms of the institution, better to be the professors for they have more joy than the educrat! Why? They are for people not programs and are constantly building saints for the Kingdom. This eternal work has meaning even if the systems fail.

People educated are a success that the world and devils cannot take away from the professor.

Of course the “dreamer” or “idealist” with his or her “apocalyptic visions” is dismissed as impractical. Some are: the false shown by an inability to make the dream or ideals as real as they can be. A Walt Disney has a dream, but has a plan to make his dream a Disneyland.

We need a David who can prepare a Kingdom and a Solomon who can build a Temple, not useless whining moaners about decay and defeat. If we must argue, we are of good cheer, because justice will triumph (someday!) in God’s good universe. Meanwhile, even when defeated, the joy of teaching, researching, writing, of being human with humans in a cause greater than ourselves, and was so much better than maintaining a “core business.”

The end of Roosevelt’s peroration makes the choice plain:

If I must choose between righteousness and peace I choose righteousness.

———————

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.


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