Untotaled: Stepping 32 (January 14th, 1967) Mr. Bayonne … September 20, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Two or three days of snow, then a brief warming period, followed by a frigid arctic blast, leaving the countryside glistening with ice, rendering everything precarious.

This was the winter of 1967.

It left all of us in grouchy moods, even though we insisted we were hearty “Ohioans,” accustomed to such frosty conditions. We basically just muddled through it, quietly complaining about “the winter of our discontent.”

Arriving back in my classroom after the Christmas holidays, I discovered that our female math teacher was gone. The initial explanation was that she was battling a severe bout of the flu.

But it took little time for the sour grapevine of the gossip mill to unearth the details. She had actually left town due to a pregnancy out-of-wedlock, making her the subject of great local scandal. My coach joked that considering she was a math teacher, she certainly didn’t do a very good job “counting her days.”

The whole locker room laughed, and I joined in–even though I didn’t get it.

Replacing her was a tall, lanky, clumsy olive-skinned fellow with thin brown greasy hair and a beak for a nose which would have been more suitable for the Family Ostrich. He was a tentative sort. Honestly, it appeared this was his first excursion as an educator.

Yes, he was an oddity. An Ichabod who resembled a crane. And in our community of conformity, he became a necessary target and needful diversion for our present boredom.

Especially when we found out that he was inept at discipline. We tormented him with our ridicule and teasing.

He wore the same brown suit every day with a white shirt and a brown tie with a gold design which could just as easily have been a speck of dried-on scrambled egg.

He had a hilarious tendency to point at the blackboard using his middle finger (which by the way, appeared to have three knuckles) and we always burst into laughter. He would whirl around and screech in a scratchy voice, “Silence!” We laughed harder.

One day a cheerleader inched her way to his desk, supposedly to ask him a question. He was so delighted for the kind attention that he failed to notice that she was taking blackboard erasers from their perch behind his back and softly laying them against his coat with her hand, creating an amazing chalk-dust design. After she returned to her seat and he turned around, we all once again erupted in great guffaws. He had no idea. Matter of fact, the same marks of chalk were on his suit four days later.

He persisted. So did we.

Matter of fact, it became more nasty when one student thought it would be funny to place an anonymous note in the suggestion box in the principal’s office, complaining about Mr. Bayonne’s teaching style.

Long story short, when we returned after our Easter vacation of resurrecting our Lord and chomping on Easter bunny candy, he was gone. We had successfully driven a stranger away–simply because we deemed him strange.

I often think about Mr. Bayonne. He may not have been suited to instruct the rabble of high school hoodlums, but he certainly deserved better treatment. But in our tiny world of thinking, this math teacher just didn’t add up.

  • Because he was different, he was wrong.
  • Because he was clumsy, he was mocked.
  • Because he wasn’t Nordic, Germanic or Scandinavian, he stirred our prejudice.

I have spent much of my life trying to make sure that I never “Bayonned” anyone again, and in so doing I have discovered a magnificent reality:

It takes different people to make me different. And if I don’t become different, I’m stuck … going no further than where I am.

 

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Pro-Grow… November 18, 2012

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“That which we have seen and that which we have heard, now we declare it unto you.”

Don’t you think that’s the way it should be? I see so many people talking without having any experience and on the other hand, people who have experience really speaking against their own better interests.

I have a friend who claims he’s “pro choice,” even though as a baby in the womb, he was nearly selected for abortion. That just doesn’t seem to be on point with his experience, do you think?

I have other friends who insist that they’re pro-life–until they found out they had a young daughter who was pregnant, and then found themselves conflicted and pursuing a path that was quite hypocritical to their own beliefs and contentions. Your beliefs should reflect your experience.

I am pro-choice, if by pro-choice you mean a woman’s right to select contraception, partners and the correct timing to have a child or not have one.

I am pro-life if you’re referring to the respect for all living organisms and all living things–granting them the dignity of their space without trying to pretend that the word “terminate” does not mean “kill.”

That’s why I find myself to be pro-grow. I see two teachings of Jesus which blend together beautifully in my mind to form an excellent pattern for evaluating such matters.

For Jesus said, “I have come to give you life and it more abundantly.” And he also said, “He that the son set free is free indeed.”

So I believe in a move towards life–and that every such movement has to be permitted through freedom. I think it’s a mistake in a country like ours to take away the rights and privileges of individuals to make their own decisions. I neither think we can legislate morality, nor do I think that we can propagate spirituality by insisting on a code of behavior.

But by the same token, I believe that the true essence of being spiritual is to promote life and give it a fair chance to have freedom. I am pro-grow. I am in favor of anything that helps us grow–to a better understanding of each other, the respect of the life that God has given us, and the granting of freedom to each other, to pursue happiness.

For you see, it is quite possible to be against abortion and not rob other American citizens of the right to use that option. If I believe my life is light and that I am the salt of the earth, then the choices I make will reverberate and create a stir and a testimony to those around me. I don’t have to become a clanging cymbal or a critical spirit to others to promote righteous choices.

So as a pro-grow person, I believe in the right of every American to make his or her own investigation–and also my right to promote life drenched in freedom instead of seeing it squelched.

Yes, it is possible to disagree with someone without condemning him. It is plausible to give people freedom without believing the decisions they make are identical to your heart’s desire. For after all, the best way to promote any cause is to make that cause as irresistible as possible. Otherwise, broccoli stands would be open next to coffee machines instead of boxes of doughnuts.

I believe my pro-grow stand, which believes in life, but also contends that it must be conducted with total freedom, is not a contradiction, but rather, a way for me to be of value to the world around me, by sharing what I’ve seen and heard, and demonstrating that it is more appealing than the alternatives.

I could never abort a child–because I once thought about doing it, and in horror, I retreated, only to celebrate to this day that this human life is present among us.

I could never support abortion because I have a daughter-in-law who bravely birthed a child out of wedlock–a young boy who is now my grandson and the love of my heart.

I refuse to be a fool or a hypocrite by being afforded experience in life which enables me to speak plainly and truthfully about better choices. Yet at the same time, I give all my brothers and sisters the freedom to find their own way without my incrimination.

I am pro-grow. I am for everything that moves towards life without robbing anyone of freedom.

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