Southern Responsibility

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”

Galatians chapter six begins with these words. The apostle Paul is telling Christians to help one another, but he also talks about taking responsibility for one’s actions. This is a problem today.

As I have mentioned, I am a public school teacher. I teach English, currently to seventh and eighth graders, though I have taught ninth and twelveth grade English as well as a separate class of Mythology. This is my seventh year as a teacher, and I have noticed that kids have changed, or more accurately, have gotten worse.

I graduated from high school 13 years ago, and I will be the first, though certainly not the last, to say that I was at times a lazy kid. It is something with which I still struggle today. I had great parents and great teachers. I eventually learned that if I was going to get anywhere in life that I needed to work for that success.

Teenagers in general today want things given to them. They feel that they are owed certain things they see that others have, even if those others earned it. They go to school because the law requires it, and with the attitude that “School is a prison,” they mope through the day putting forth as little effort as possible. Some can’t even do that.

When given assignments, no matter the length, weeping and gnashing of teeth ensue. Students complain about having to actually “do stuff,” as though writing an essay is akin to working 12 hot hours in the tobacco field. *Disclaimer: I never worked in a tobacco field, but my grandparents talk about it as though it was awful.

Then, at the end of a grading period, the same students complain about the poor grades that I “gave” them. I always respond to this that I do not give grades. Each student earns his or her grade. I rarely ever give extra credit because if you put forth the effort on the original assignments, you would have all the credit you need.

The summer before I got my first teaching job, I had just graduated with my Master’s degree in Education. I had applied to several schools in the surrounding counties, but until I heard back from them, I needed to get paid. My future father-in-law got me a job working at the Federal Mogul auto parts distribution plant in Smyrna. This was a big warehouse where I worked 10-12 hour shifts five days a week on my feet, sweating profusely, unpacking and repacking car parts. As someone with an advanced degree in what is considered an “inside” job, I could have complained at the conditions and whined at the pay; however, I knew that I needed to work somewhere until I could get a more permanent job as a teacher.

More than half of teenagers today have never worked a job that features manual labor. I was never given an allowance. My dad told me that with everything he and my mom provided me that I was doing well enough. If I wanted extra money, I had to work for it. So I did. Not including mowing yards, I have been working since I was 16 years old. I have had just about any type of job you can think of from office work to food industry (kitchen and serving) to courier to warehouse work. When my wife, who is the primary earner in our house, had to quit work to go back to graduate school, I worked as a waiter and also as a cashier at Lowe’s at night while teaching during the day. I may not be the hardest worker in the world, but I take responsibility for myself and my family.

This doesn’t mean that I’m perfect. I make more mistakes in a day than most make in a week, but I own them. I don’t pawn off the blame on anyone else. This is a HUGE issue in today’s society. It’s always someone else’s fault. We keep pointing fingers. This problem has literally existed since the beginning of humankind. Genesis 3:11-13 shows the fallout of the first sin and the emergence of the blame game. “And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ (NKJV)”

The correct answer to God’s question to Adam was “Yes, Lord, I ate of the tree of which You told me not to eat,” but instead Adam blames Eve. Then Eve blames the serpent. If you subscribe to the notion that the serpent was the Devil, then he would probably just smirk and slither away without pointing any fingers (if snakes had fingers at that point). Neither man nor woman accepted responsibility for his or her actions. Today, the fault lies with TV/the Internet, the Republicans/Democrats, the police, the teachers, parents, kids, etc. We need to do what we are supposed to do and accept the consequences if we don’t.

Is your life the way you want it to be? Who’s fault is it? When you point a finger at someone else, there are three more pointing back at you. Don’t pass the buck; accept responsibility. Bear your own load.

Peace. Love. Roll Tide.