Friday, May 10, 2013

Freedom or Security . . . either or?

Now that the dust is settling in Boston and our legislative bodies are coming out of hiding, I am beginning to wonder if we as a nation might ponder again the question of personal liberties and personal safety. How do we feel about sacrificing some of our personal freedoms in order to gain personal safety? Are we comfortable with the number of security cameras that take your picture each day as you walk down Main Street in the course of your everyday activities? Advocates would correctly point out that if you are doing nothing wrong or illegal you should not object to these minor intrusions into your personal freedom to travel freely without Big Brother’s watchful eye. But the ruckus raised over the placement of “red light” cameras in some major cities implies this is a big issue for many.

How similar is this to Wall Street decrying what they perceive to be over-regulation of their businesses—preventing them from maximizing profits for their shareholders and investors? The financial collapse of the last decade has shown how well served the public has been by the lax regulatory environment deregulation has brought. Assuredly, if all businesses possessed the corporate values which placed public good at a level similar to shareholder profits, fewer regulators would be needed to keep the economy on track. And, if drivers could overcome their propensity to run red lights and endanger the rest of us on the road, “red light” cameras would not be necessary.

Maybe it is human nature to think it is okay to inhibit the rights and personal freedoms of those we think will harm or endanger us. But how soon will our freedoms—and our privacies—be sacrificed as our leaders seek to protect us from real and imagined danger. Where shall we draw the line?

Father Mark

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thank You Teachers!

I readily admit I have little experience teaching school at any grade level. I was the Math Superstar volunteer in Emily and Ian’s fifth grade classes. But the extent of my formal teaching experience was at seminary where I taught middle-school music for two semesters at a local private school. I remember being paid ten dollars an hour plus $1,500 for coaching the high school football team one season. (I was a brilliant defensive coordinator—a so-so music teacher.)

What I remember from both experiences is how difficult teaching can be and how intimidating students can be to inexperienced teachers—even parent volunteers and big, tough, defensive coordinators. But also it can be stressful trying to remain faithful to the subject matter as the organization wants it taught.  Teachers today are graded and evaluated even more than their students; their careers depend upon their performance and remaining cool in the face of adversity. Every snap judgment, even thought and word is subject to review. It is not an easy job.

It is with these factors and many more in mind that St. Andrew’s participated in Teacher Appreciation Day at Terry Parker High School this week. I hope we never fail to thank our teachers for the jobs they do educating our young people and preparing them for the life ahead of them.

If you are a teacher—Thank You—and if you know a teacher, please give them our thanks, for the work they do and the decision they made years ago to be an educator of young people and a shaper of leaders, without whom we would have no hope. 

I also give thanks for Susan Yeoman and her family and all who represented St. Andrew’s in this outreach to Terry Parker High School. If you are interested in this ministry please talk to Susan to see what is planned next and how you might participate.

Father Mark