Technically I am not supposed to be celebrating Christmas. Jehovah’s Witnesses have institutionalized “Bah, Humbug” and made it a religious offense to celebrate Christmas or any other birthdays. And I have not yet been disfellowshipped from the JW religion. That is, however, a mere oversight on their part. They have not read this blog enough to be offended with my worldly views. I have suggested here that I am a Christian existentialist… something that any JW who understands what that philosophical term means would call an atheist.
I definitely understand why atheists avoid proactive religions like the Witnesses. For one thing, JW’s believe in the redeem-ability of the human race. Open the door, listen to the proselytizer’s mini-sermon, read the infallible Bible verse, and paradise in an everlasting life on Earth is yours for the taking. So, get out there and knock on some doors with a Bible in your book bag! These redeemable Texans whose doors they knock upon being the same ones that have the police arrest Muslim clock-making teens for showing their project to a teacher, and throw hungry school children’s lunches in the trash in front of their friends if they owe $1.70 over the limit for their reduced lunches. These redeemable Texans are also the ones who sent Ted Cruz to the US Senate and may help elect him president. Despicable is too good a word for that type of human being… unless Sylvester the cat is the one saying it with extra sloppy spray coming out of the sides of his mouth.
I confess that I have been working on a comedic science-fiction novel about a planet-wide civilization destroying itself for greed and despicableness. I even put Ted Cruz in that story as lizard-man alien (which I am not sure if it is an insult or a complement to Cruz). I also idolize Mark Twain, and often wonder if he isn’t right about the “damned human race”, and how Noah should’ve let them drown. So I should be embracing humbuggery for so many reasons…
But today I re-connected on Facebook with a former student from not so long ago. Ronan Pablomia was an ESL student from the streets of Manila in the Philippines. As a teacher, I normally love students, even the stinky ones, and I tried for three years to get through to this kid. He was repeatedly in fights in school with other students. He was disruptive in the classroom, saying intentionally horrible and insane things during class. He was probably an un-diagnosed bipolar person, but he was definitely diagnosed as having a learning disability and a rage disorder. He was hostile and made life so miserable for his classmates that they begged both the principal and me to expel his sorry behind from our high school.
Today he had the remarkable good sense to tell me on Facebook that I was the best teacher ever. He said he finally acknowledged his fighting problem and got help (after getting out of jail). He has a job now and is helping to support his parents. He apologized for how stupid he acted in class, and I ended up reminding him that the best students are the ones that learned the most. He was not the smartest kid ever, but he was bright, and if he has learned to control his bipolar temper, he definitely qualifies as one of kids who came the farthest down the learning path, and probably learned the most after all.
So Ronan gave me an excellent and unexpected Christmas gift. He added one more hint that my career as a teacher was not in vain, and three years worth of patience and suffering did not go for nothing, even though he never graduated high school. Maybe the aggressive and carnivorous primates that populate this planet are not all that irredeemable after all. So have a happy Christmas. Frohe Weinachten. Feliz Navidad. And God bless us, every one.