Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech to those assembled at the conclusion of the march from Selma to Montgomery. He told the audience “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” Then he added, “no lie can live forever.” King also reminded the crowd: “because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
The driving force of Martin Luther King’s philosophy was the certain idea that Jesus is the truth. He believed that and he spoke of it in most of his public speeches. King wasn’t a politician arousing a crowd with inferences to God, he was a minister evoking Christ to connect to issues facing the world. Whether or not you agree with his worldview, he was who he was—a believer in Jesus Christ.
Like Dr. King, I don’t pretend to be anything I am not. I have lived a full life and made mistakes. I am comforted by my own faith in Christ. I see the moral and earthly struggles faced by others and understand but by the Grace of God, there goes I. It shows up in my work as executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. It shows up in my drive to make our organization the best association for educators in Tennessee. I have compassion for our members and the difficult job they do, and have the empathy that educators need. But it is a two-way street. So many teachers and administrators call and encourage me. They appreciate our work for them and they share their success stories in education. It cannot help but inspire me, as well as others. Educators see miracles every single day.
Too many in our state and nation believe the lie that public education is failing. Do we have failures? Yes, there are things that go wrong every single day. But looking at the big picture, the arc of the universe, as King may say, it is a beautiful success story. Children are dropped off at a school, unable to read and write, growing up in some of the worst conditions possible. They come from crime riddled neighborhoods, drug infested homes, often being raised by single parents and some, with no parents. Many have no responsible adults in the picture. Food and shelter are uncertain. Yet teachers, some who may be unconnected themselves, make an impact that helps that child survive for a day, a week, a month and then a year. Somehow, those children grow up. Then the miracle they see is that the child becomes a productive citizen capable of thinking for themselves. They didn’t become a statistic. They didn’t die.
We all get angry. Even God repeatedly describes himself in Scripture as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” However, too often anger produces in us, “quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” It also produces “enmity, strife . . . fits of anger [i.e. tantrums], rivalries, dissensions, [and] divisions.” We must balance that personally and professionally. We must avoid the negative. There is no perfect anger. We should allow mercy to triumph over judgment for others, and we must remain committed to love.
When I deal with angry teachers I am reminded frequently of another lie, that anger solves problems. We see that manifested when administrators are angry at teachers or vice-versa. We see it on full display from teacher unions. They really believe dissension and division resolves issues; it doesn’t. That is why we see hostility, anger, slander and gossip on frequent display from them. I have been subjected to regular attacks personally, often based on little or no truth by paid union stalkers. Because of my faith, I am able to persevere. I get to witness the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice. Truth will eventually prevail. It is a beautiful reminder that no lie can live forever.
JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee.