- I’m going to relate the disregard for Biden and Sanders’ age to the current government response to see-oh-vee-aye-dee nineteen.
- I’m going to teach you bravery.
- I’m going to escape again.
Let’s begin. Like many of you, I have long been perplexed by Biden and Sanders’ age. This is because for as long as I can remember, our culture’s socially-approved political and historical posture has included the denigration of old white men. With the sought for and welcomed shut-down of America by these same socialites, not to mention their shaming of any folks who say, “Don’t worry”, I am no longer perplexed. What is now abundantly clear, even to a dunce like me, is Americans are in a state of denial regarding death.
Next, professional pilots must pass flight physicals on at least a yearly basis. As it was devised by pilots, this rule is naturally incredibly wise and far-thinking. And yet, it can be stressful on the day. Imagine with me that you’re not sick and you must go to a doctor. The doctor during this interaction has the power–not to tell you that you’re sick–but to bring an end to your career, and quite probably your childhood dream.
Again, as a pilot there is at least one day a year where even though you’re not sick, you must transfer the controls of your life to a person who has the power to crush your soul. How do we do it? Or, more specifically, how do I do it? Firstly, I tell the truth. The truth is that that doctor’s no more in control than I am. Something bigger is going on. Secondly, I remind myself that it’s not a one-time visit. As a professional pilot, I have to be healthy every day. The minute I feel unhealthy, I have to land.
In other words, the fear lies in applying incorrectly intense focus on that one doctor visit, and the courage lies in spreading out the focus over a lifetime. More simply, when I begin to dread the flight physical, I change my perspective.
Hey you! If you’re feeling afraid, change your perspective. (Don’t worry.)
Lastly, I made my wife watch Field of Dreams with me last night. I had mentioned the film to her and my step-son the other day, and when I tried to summarize it, I couldn’t get through a summary without crying. Weird. Anyhow, recently when we’ve watched a film, I have loved the new-to-me sensation of contemplating what she (a non-Western immigrant) must be thinking as she watches it, considering that she doesn’t know any of the multiple references each film makes and uses in order to be a coherent whole. (For example, forget ((or add to)) ballplayers themselves as being a new entity; think of watching the “I’m melting” line as the ballplayer walks into the cornfield.)
In any case, with all the hysteria and uncertainty and “shuttering” going on, last night, I didn’t want to see the movie from her perspective. I just wanted to imagine what it was like for Ray to rush to the field after his daughter told him there was a man standing on it. I just wanted to imagine seeing a ballplayer standing in the outfield under the lights in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. I just wanted to imagine that I still lived in America.
In three years of Seminary coursework, I never did find myself tasked with the Old Testament book of Judges much. Helping edit a friend’s chapter-a-day devotional emails, I recently have been prompted to read it. And I’ve not been disappointed. It’s like Braveheart, Gladiator, and 300 all rolled into one.
This post is my volley into the C-O-V-I-D-1-9 written commentary foray. Setting the scene a bit, I’d say it’s probably best to picture a large post-NFL game parking lot brawl (or better yet maybe COSTCO at the toilet paper aisle) and some mesomorph man annoyingly jumping in only for cheap shots and then hopping right back out again before some seasoned ignoramus can counter-attack.
Early in the book of Judges, an account begins which involves the rare-to-scripture female protagonist. This Deborah is a prophetess who encourages the military leader, Barak, to fight a war. She then warns him, or advises him, however, that the honor (consequent to winning) will be given to a woman. Skipping ahead in the story, we learn that the defeated, fleeing king, Sisera, thinks he has found safe keeping in the house of a friend–having accepted the invitation of the friend’s wife. Picking up the story there, the Bible records, “But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, ‘Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.’ And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple.”
That’s all interesting, fine, and dandy (reminded me of the antler-to-the-neck in Braveheart). But it’s just the setup. What I want us to focus on is Deborah’s (and Barak’s) celebratory song–or the last part at least. It goes:
Out of the window she looked and lamented,
The mother of Sisera through the lattice,
‘Why does his chariot delay in coming?
Why do the hoofbeats of his chariots tarry?’
Her wise princesses would answer her,
Indeed she repeats her words to herself,
‘Are they not finding, are they not dividing the spoil?
A maiden, two maidens for every warrior;
To Sisera a spoil of dyed work,
A spoil of dyed work embroidered,
Dyed work of double embroidery on the neck of the spoiler?’
Mockery. Blatant, pure, and chilling mockery. Deborah goes two levels deep in her scoff. She doesn’t just mock the dead Sisera’s mother, but adds the consolation that she can imagine the “wise princesses” offering. Cold-blooded stuff.
Which brings us full-circle to the hysteria. Here’s our victory song:
You thought government was god of the universe–God in the flesh.
You thought the government could solve all problems.
You bet hearth and home on the government.
And now you’re buying *extra* toilet paper.
You don’t even know why!
And you have to explain it to your kids.
The look on your kids’ faces is judgement from your maker. They know you’re unhinged. They can’t do math. They can’t read. They wouldn’t know what critical thinking was if it hit them square in the jaw. But they know what too much toilet paper looks like.
H- said, wide-eyed and earnest, “I hope they buy some plungers too–if they’re going to be flushing all that down the pipes.”
My most recent pastor loves to commend believing in the Bible even when you don’t understand it. (Most recently, this was communicated in response to Old Testament saints’ polygamy.)
My father wants to write a book about the value of dreaming–not during sleep, but the kind of dreaming where you let your mind just freely choose a desirable future, no matter how likely, and then enjoy the accompanying sensation for as long as you can–even if it that future never comes true.
My wife is woefully unaware of Western Civilization’s most recent two and a half millennia of history, and simultaneously is one of the most happy and hopeful people I know.
My best friend, who is the most principled, and therefore inspiring, person I know, wonders if the coronavirus coverage and government and extra-government response is actually a strategic, coordinated, and intentional effort by those who oppose President Trump to prevent him from winning reelection.
Put another way, I think it’s time to escape for a bit. Will you join me?
I like to escape by focusing as hard as I can on something, anything that catches my attention. No more keyboard. No more blog. No more computer. No more news. No more family. No more house. No more job. No more planet. No more universe. Just me and the idea.
Today’s idea is making a vow.
The vehicle which delivered this idea to me is the passage in Judges where one Judge, Jephthah, vows to the LORD to sacrifice as a burnt offering that which comes out of his home upon his victorious arrival–if only the LORD will grant him certain victory. If you’re unfamiliar, his only daughter is “that which” comes out and he sacrifices her, with her encouragement.
I can imagine that some people would point to this story as reason to question scripture’s status as “worthy of study”. To them I would offer this reminder, “Jesus saved my soul. Jesus commended scripture. I’m sticking with Jesus.”
I can imagine that others would draw some ridiculous and irrelevant points about “vowing” and different “covenants” or more simply, “That was then, this is now–there is no need to dwell.”
Then, I can remember that at the end of a recent translation of Homer’s Iliad, or some other ancient classic, the critic commends it for containing characters who behave so inexplicably and unpredictably. In other words, the critic lauded the story for its messiness. The critic, I think, loved the story because it made the reader think, “Hmm. What would I do?” or “Hmm. Would I do the same thing? Have I done the same thing?”
Vowing is an interesting enterprise as it essentially brings into focus our integrity as individuals. Within “vowing” the group, the community, disappears.
In the account recorded in Judges, the situation’s tragedy is compounded by the daughter’s urging her father to keep his vow, his integrity–even though it would mean that she dies because of it.
Keep in mind that these people don’t know Jesus. There is no “personal relationship”. It’s back in ancient history and it’s over in a part of the world when what we call “theocracies” were at least normal, if not the norm. Also, keep in mind literacy rates in bible times and the chance that the daughter knew anything about Yahweh, other than he was her father’s god and some rote memorization of the most memorable laws, would be very difficult to defend. In other words, I think we could insert any other deity’s name and the story would present the same.
Despite all these words, I can’t untangle myself from the two questions, “Why make the vow?” and “Why fulfill the vow?”
Integrity. That’s why.
Okay. Escape over.
It was okay. But I got an email from H-‘s school district about COVID-19 during the attempt. Remind me to close that tab next escape-attempt.
The email contains a link to a “comic” on NPR’s website to use to help kids stay stress free. Pictographs? Really? We’re going to survive the pandemic because someone drew pictures?
What should schools do right now? The same thing they should always do, the same thing which they never do. Pack any children you can see into buildings and teach the kids how to read words. Make it clear that we expect everyone of any age to always fight through any sickness. Keep the posture that because of literacy, if you get sick in America, you don’t die. But most importantly, teach the kids how to read words. Teach the kids how to read words. Teach the kids how to read words.
We don’t need stress-free kids. We need literate adults.
And I just received another email.
I’m over it.
Two emails in less than one hour and four minutes counts as hysteria. This is embarrassing. Every single teacher and administrator involved in public schools should be embarrassed and ashamed for furthering this hysteria.
Some days I wake up and have a lot to say. Today is one of those days. With an eye on poignancy, here goes.
One article collected and laid out the tragic history of sports figures and fatal aviation mishaps. Hmm. Who would we expect to be buzzing around Earth’s sky in heavier than air machines? The homeless? The destitute? Flying is and always will be an activity for the wealthy. There’s nothing surprising about aviation mishap victims having wealth or being renowned personalities.
The real catalyst for this post, however, is the report/advertisement that some Super Bowl commercial (please consider these words in their fullness–the “news” is about “advertising decisions”) has removed a scene with a helicopter from its Sunday ad. This has been done out of respect, they say. I say that they didn’t go far enough. I say that we all haven’t gone far enough.
Why not re-shoot all Super Bowl commercials involving helicopters in their productions? In fact, I do not think we should see an overhead shot of anything. Truly, we should just advertise using cartoons. But no sky shots! And for God’s sake, no clouds!
Additionally, the opening and closing of those super respectful commercials (they should be silent, since helicopters are noisy), should include the disclaimer, “No helicopters were used in the images, filming, or travel methods of any of the humans who had anything to do with this advertisement.” And I want a time stamp, too, like, “The last time a helicopter was used by anyone, including me, who had anything to do with this commercial was _______.” Let’s find out who really respects the victims of the tragedy.
My aim here is to give you the good stuff, the thoughts of a professional helicopter pilot who had to go to work the next day. Most of the following is criticism of your reporting of the crash, not my speculation about the crash. Listen up. You’ll learn a lot.
To begin, you journalists are doing a great disservice to language and how it works (not to mention your reputation) during your reporting. For example, the word “special” in, “He was on a special VFR clearance,” is nothing like “special” in, “Kobe was a special basketball superstar.” In other words, on any given day, every pilot in the sky could simultaneously be on a “special VFR clearance”.
Secondly, after completing every paragraph, reread it and ask yourself, “Is there anything in here which betrays that I have a complete misunderstanding of all things aviation?” If you answer affirmatively on any level, rewrite it. Specifically, pilots don’t ask for “flight following” because they are worried. When I’m worried, I hold my breath, I pace, I shake my head, I purse my lips, I mutter to myself, and I probably do a few other things of which I’m not even aware, too–no different than you. “Flight following” is meaningfully on the same level of flight safety as learning how to fly from someone else before flying solo. It’s absolutely unremarkable.
Thirdly, flying has so much drama inherent to it, or so much “organic” drama, that if you find yourself needing to add some, then you’re clearly not writing about flying. For instance, “Too low for flight following,” (Oooh!) has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with the capabilities of the sending and receiving technologies which have been tasked with “following” the flight. In other words, in Iraq, we routinely flew at 100 ft above the ground. This is much lower than Kobe’s flight, and yet our Operations Centers knew exactly where we were every second we were there.
Fourthly, reread your articles for general common sense blunders. Particularly ridiculous are your claims about the differences between IFR and VFR flying. To be clear, whether flying under “Instrument Flight Rules” or “Visual Flight Rules”, whether flying in clouds (fog is just a cloud at the Earth’s surface), whether flying under clouds, whether flying over clouds, or whether flying in skies totally free of clouds, all pilots fly by eyesight.
Do you copy? You’re not doing your job responsibly when you’re not doing your research or using your brain. Admit when you don’t know what you’re writing about. You’re embarrassing yourself.
What caused the crash? Poor judgement. Bad decision making. At some level, once removed, the weather can be called a factor. But clouds are merely invisible gaseous water vapor that has condensed into visible liquid water. They cause daydreams; they are the outward cause of lightning and its thunder. The condensation can occur strongly enough to cause itself to fall to the earth as precipitation. But clouds do not cause pilots to crash.
Pilots cause pilots to crash.
We know that.
That’s why we’re so special.
A co-worker of mine recently told me that her dad, in his eighties, still parries attacks when people find out he and his wife had 14 biological children. For crying out loud, leave the man alone!
That said, my first comment is that I have collected positive proof that homeschooling is counter-culture. Ergo, if you’re not strong, don’t do it.
In my case, it’s necessary because the boy, my 9 year old step-son, has essentially never been taught. I won’t list the things that he doesn’t know, but I will give you the punch-line. He has never, not once, been taught to think. When I first met him, I was fooled into thinking his laugh was genuine and displayed some amount of discernment. Since he moved in, I have come to the opposite conclusion. His laugh is only, and sadly, a defense mechanism. Somehow “pity” was the overwhelming view taken by the adults in his life. It’s a shame. At 9, he operates at a level that is usually reserved for infants. Consequently, and among afore-posted reasons, I won’t send him into the public school forum with the rest of your kids just so that he can come out “feeling” like he’s really doing it (living as a free man).
Regarding homeschooling, then, here’s a succinct “A day in the life.” (And if you earnestly want any info on the curriculum I use etc., then please email me. I didn’t invent the wheel here.)
After breakfast he does one lesson of Saxon Math, by himself. Well, almost by himself. He is the most undisciplined little fella I’ve ever come across, so I sit and time him on his “math facts” which is always part of Saxon’s “Warm-up”. Then, I stay with him a bit longer because he was missing the “patterns” or “problem solving” Warm-up word problem every day. It’s fascinating to daily observe his inability to recognize a pattern.
Despite never answering one correctly on the first try, every day–every day–he asserts that the word problem is simple. Then he totally misses the entire point of it. My function is merely as a broken record which sings, “Read it again,” until he begins to see that words mean what they mean, and not what he wants them to mean. Every. Single. Day.
Then he moves on to the lesson.
Whether he spends all day or only the one hour I expect it to take, he has to complete the lesson. And he does. Then he shows me the work, and I tell him he can go get the solution book and grade his work, fixing any errant answers along the way.
Next, the goal is for him to write a one-page essay, which I subsequently would edit for spelling/grammar. His English isn’t quite up to this task yet, so I have him copy two-pages worth of material out of something that I think is interesting or something he asked about or displayed uncommon ignorance about the day before. As you’ll see below, this is going well, and I’m planning to set him free this summer.
Lastly, he “free reads” for either the remainder of the five hour block which began that morning, or a minimum of two hours. In other words, if he drags his feet all day on math and writing, he still has two hours of reading. I have a “library” and he can read anything out of the library (as many times as he wants) , or his Bible, for the allotted time.
Because he is so behind, I also have him do one block game/activity thing every day, too. (Equilibrio.) I intended this to be a more-than-literal building block activity which slowly worked him up to the more mentally challenging and age-appropriate Architecto, but as fate would have it, this kindergarten level game has proven to reveal (and remedy) the boy’s terribly low self-esteem. In about 20 days we have gone from 1. A 9 year old throwing blocks across the table, 2. Crying, and 3. Responding to my inquiry, “Who, exactly, is preventing the successful completion of the task?” with, “The devil!” all the way to One Million: “Hey, Mr. Pete! Here’s tomorrow’s. Look. It’s easy. All you have to do is…” as he accurately describes a winning strategy.
Now for one humorous, self-effacing anecdote. The other day, A- told me about the time where he and H- and all of us where at an outlet mall and he saw a sign for “chocolate juice.”
I responded, “A-. They don’t make chocolate juice. It probably was for some kind of shake or something. What do you think? There is some kind of chocolate fruit? Like an orange? Which they squeeze juice out of?” (Wait for it.) I continued, “You know what? That’d be a good thing to look up in The Book of Knowledge today.” (This is in my Library. It is from the 50s, but it is a Children’s Encyclopedia that is absolutely wonderful for a child.)
A- opted out of the idea, more out of defiance than anything, and so days went by before he finally asked if he can write some of the entry on chocolate for his daily writing.
Next, I had him read what he wrote, both to highlight his copying prowess/weakness and to practice reading aloud. Together we heard the opening sentence, “Coffee is not the only one of our favorite beverages that comes from the warm tropical lands: cocoa, or chocolate, is another, and it was given to the Old World by the New.”
That was so odd to me that I essentially ignored it.
But I couldn’t ignore the words of one paragraph later which read, “Chocolate soon became a favorite drink in Europe…”
Please take a moment to really hear A-‘s relentless laughter. As if I didn’t have feelings!
If you listened closely, though, you could hear growth. And if you listened even closer, you could hear a fire being ignited.
You see, “Mr. Pete” was categorically shamed by his own method. And yet, A- has to admit into his reality (or his “felt experience” for those of you #trending) that the shamed “Mr. Pete” lives to fight another day. Previously, A- seems to have thought failure was forever and to be avoided at all costs–even if it meant abstaining. Now he is aware of something else. And this makes him a bit uncomfortable, a bit wobbly, and, most important, a bit curious.
In short, I couldn’t be more pleased with home school.
First up was the oddity that as I looked to see if there was anything to note about the passengers or vehicle passing me, I was surprised to be the recipient of a smile and thumbs up.
For an unknown reason, anytime I suspect that an occupant of another car is communicating to me, my heart skips a beat. I must be on fire, I think.
But, no. That’s not what was happening here. This was some sort of encouragement. But for what?
Was this Iowan so sheltered that my Colorado plates being in Iowa were simply exciting? As in, “Good for you! You got out!!”??
No. That just didn’t make sense. Plenty of people pass through this state.
Hmm. Not on fire. (Confirmed by the fact that another car has passed me–sans attempt to warn me of fire.) Not my foreignness. What could he have seen?
A- was in the backseat reading.
No tablet. No phone. No movie. No video game. Just a boy and a book. Yup. That’s it.
A smile and thumbs up from a stranger passing me on the highway. Why? Because I’m raising a boy right.
Secondly, I saw a bald eagle. It was just lazily riding the waves of the wind. At first I couldn’t be sure that it really was a bald eagle. But as I returned my eyes to the road, I saw a new scene. A blanket of red, white, and blue–47, 48, 49, and, yes, 50 bright stars to boot–warmed the wintry landscape. And I could tell that, even when I wasn’t looking, men and women were constantly sewing and mending this mantle by dim, fading candlelight in one great period of darkness.
Then I was sure of it. It was a bald eagle if ever there was one.
“Now you wan’ ta’ get nuts?! Come on, let’s get nuts!”
You probably missed it, because the speaker was *shh* a Catholic, but the Pope just said, “We are no longer under a Christian regime because faith – especially in Europe, but also in large parts of the West – is no longer an obvious prerequisite of common life, and on the contrary, often it is even rejected, mocked, marginalized and ridiculed.”
As you know, the Bible writer’s believed you’d be persecuted for your faith in Jesus. But that’s not what the Pope was talking about here. No, he was talking about the world-over response of folks to people who say something that means nothing. Most recently, one example I believe he is talking about is Evangelicals’ political pronouncement: “God uses imperfect people.”
Evangelicals love to hide behind this statement. You seem to believe it is meaningfully a “mic drop of mic drops” with which to naturally conclude your squirming, vacillating defense of your loyalty to the idea that President Trump was a good choice.
But all the world over, if it has the time to spend on your ideas, only laughs at you. They reject you. They mock you. They marginalize you. And they ridicule you. And, in this case (among others), they are absolutely right to do so.
Saying, “God uses imperfect people” is the same as saying, “legless reptiles are snakes” or “large bodies of water are oceans” in response to, “I think it’s poisonous,” and, “Looks wet to me.”
You haven’t defended anything. That’s why so many folks think you’re irrelevant.
Defend Trump, I say. Defend him. Defend your choice. Defend your savior. Defend your vote. Defend your mind. Defend, defend, defend. That’s where you make your money. So do it.
Or maybe you don’t know how.
So just how does a pilot, a combat veteran, hero extraordinaire to boot, (and a good smile) motivate himself in these troubled times of doom and gloom? I’ll tell ya.
Firstly, I have an unshakable hope and belief that “good will overcome”. While I must have received this hope from some influential adults as a child, I cannot pin down exactly when or where or who those noble folks were. I’d love to share that I could easily note that they were all Christians, but as you know, the situation is always complicated when it comes to these things. (And, truth be told, for whatever reason, some of the very people I’m trying to cheer up with this post are Christians who see the end of America and subsequently the end of the whole shebang looming on the horizon.) Either way, I’m happy the LORD put these torch-bearers in my life.
Secondly, I motivate myself by doing my best to recognize the problem accurately. This motivates me because once we identify the problem, solutions appear out of nowhere.
There is a problem, make no mistake. But you all are misidentifying it and, more than that, you’re letting others misidentify it for you. You should try to recognize the problem for your own self. It’s quite a ride. But don’t take my word for it. Read on.
The problem is not Trump. The problem is not the Democrats. The problem is not the Squad. The problem is not Islam. The problem is not the climate.
The problem is that we Americans don’t know what to do with our power. In other words, we’re leaderless. We have been for a long time. We’re just going through the motions, hoping no one will bother us.
Additionally, we can still recall what it took to get the power. We can still remember not having the power.
Put another way, I’m talking about the difference between fighting for the top of the mountain, and living atop the mountain.
To be clear, we did marvelous fighting–and for all the right reasons. But now we’re in some sort of bizarre mental depression. I see future historians describing the Great Depression as having two distinct time periods. The first was financial. The second, the longer one, was of the collective mind. That’s where I want to help you. I want to swoop in and fly you out of the depression.
This particular Sunday it occurred to me that I feel (whether accurately or inaccurately) that I fear another nation/tribe/group developing weapons, strategies etc. that could be used to defeat us. IE, bigger bombs, better economies and economic theories, better religions etc. But when I take a Sunday morning to survey the passing scene, I find this to not be indicated anywhere. Instead, I keep seeing 9/11.
I see men, from meaningfully another world, (to say “another planet” would only be slightly misleading, so “another world” must suffice) using our planes against us. I see men using our planes against us. I see “men” using “our” against “us”.
So solution-wise, we’ve hit pay-dirt. Can you feel it? We now know a great deal. We know that a bigger bomb doesn’t defeat or solve “our”. Neither does better engineering defeat “our”. A robust economy doesn’t defeat “our”. A hopeful outlook doesn’t defeat “our”. Even wishful thinking doesn’t defeat “our”.
Good. We’re making progress. We know now that there is no reason to lose hope, that there is every reason to keep excelling–in everything.
Okay. “Our.” What else do we have?
So these aliens snuck one in on us. Minor loss. One battle, not the war. But the way they did it reveals the war. The war is over the Way. It’s not over land. It’s not over oil. It’s not over past sins. It’s not over present sins.
Our enemies are people whose planes we could never use to fly into their buildings–not because of their more diligent TSA equivalents, but because they haven’t invented any planes. Our enemies are people whose books we can’t read–not because they haven’t been translated, but because they haven’t been written. Our enemies are people whose greatest weapon is their neighbor’s 72 year old repeating rifle.
Why haven’t they invented or written?
Horrible question. A trap set by the great Satan himself. That question is in no way our problem.
Ok. I’ll grant you it’s interesting to say. So I’ll appease us all and utter it again.
Why haven’t they invented or written?
Why haven’t they invented or written?
I don’t know. I don’t care. You shouldn’t either.
But, returning to reality, I do know that this recognition that they use “our” against “us” motivates me like little else on this day.
Knowing this means that I know that they’re coming. Knowing this means that I know they’re on their way. It means they’re behind me. Knowing this means that I know they wouldn’t know which way to go without me. It means I can, in fact, tell “us” from “them” while looking out my car’s windows on my way to work, all the way to while I watch the international scene unfold on my phone. And it means that I can talk about who they are without the use of political designations or family associations–even in my children’s government mandated safe spaces!
To the enemy I say, “Here you go. I offer this post which contains everything you need to know about my intentions and strategy to defeat you. It’s free for the taking. (On circuit boards powered by lightning storing batteries, neither of which were invented by you!) Take it. As a gift. Because that’s all you seem to be able to do. Take or receive. Never create. Never give.”
To us, I say, “Back to clearing the path. People need to know which way to go.”
“No mistakes!” the boy beamed.
Scrunching up his forehead and sharpening his eyes, the man replied, “This one is wrong. And this one.” Then he turned the page over. “This is wrong. And this one isn’t exactly wrong, but it isn’t worded correctly enough to be right.”
“Why did you say, ‘no mistakes’?”
“Because the teacher put a star right there.”
“Well, there are mistakes.”
“Well, the teacher doesn’t grade it. She just looks to see that we did it.”
I ask you, reader, do you know what it feels like to have Ignorance violently and maliciously knock you unconscious at breakfast?
“Well,” he began again, “Why did you tell me that there were no mistakes if you didn’t know?”
“Okay. How about, ‘What does mistake mean?'”
“Like when you accidentally make a mistake.”
“Well, you can’t use the word in the defin-”
“Right. But it’s not really limited to ‘accidents’.” A pause. “So why did you say, ‘no mistakes?'”
“I was guessing?”
“Never mind. How about, ‘If the teacher says, “No mistakes,” when they haven’t looked at the work, then what is that called?'”
A searching pause. This, reader, was then followed by a nine year old’s terrifying, confusing, distasteful, and yet somehow innocent identification of everything wrong with public schools.
(In case you missed it, the beginning of my tale found a child–Hero? Villain? We do not know–in Fantasy Land, and he felt like a million bucks. Then the end of my tale landed our hero in the real world, where A- was repulsed by the thought of moral responsibility–not just moral responsibility but mere moral reality–and longed for that Fantasy Land of yester-minute filled with lies and no responsibility.)