I wonder sometimes why there are problems we have never solved. As a whole we humans are a pretty smart group. We’ve invented a lot of neat gadgets that save time and effort and even lives. We’ve overcome some pretty major crises. We’ve eradicated many diseases. We’ve ended some conflicts and created laws. But from time to time I read or hear reminders that some situations haven’t improved much. Such was the case this morning when I posted this item in my Caddo blog:
September 13, 1901
“At a meeting of the school board last week it was found from the report of the principal that the faculty of three was insufficient to properly teach the public school and that therefore another teacher was necessary. At the meeting of the board Saturday they elected Miss Fannie Lyle to the position of assistant teacher which gave general satisfaction. Miss Fannie began teaching Tuesday and already has sixty-three pupils in her room.”
Given the common practices of the time that means that Miss Lyle was probably teaching at least three grade levels and was expected to teach, maintain discipline, and clean her room at the end of the day. While education has improved in many ways over the years, stuffing too many students into a room is still a common practice in many schools, especially those in cities and areas of poverty. I only have twenty students this year, but I know many fellow kindergarten teachers who have 30 students or more, without an assistant. Why can’t we solve the problem of over-crowding?
I could extract items from the old papers that tell of robberies, murders, rapes, and other crimes that are so similar to today’s stories that I could simply change the dates and you wouldn’t know the difference. People still kill themselves and others with alarming frequency despite our knowledge of human nature and psychology, our laws and punishments, and our advanced “civilized” society.
This week we are once again considering our role in a serious conflict overseas. How many times has that happened? How many of our boys have died fighting somewhere in an attempt to regain or maintain peace in the world? Yet we are still lacking it.
Right now, as you read this, people are dying from self-inflicted diseases and conditions caused by alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Despite advances in our knowledge of the risks, and in spite of posted warnings on everything except their foreheads, there are people who will START smoking today. There are people who will choose drugs or alcohol to soothe their feelings and solve their problems.
You can take a drive through your town, city, or countryside today and see evidence of people living in poverty. I don’t even have to ask where you live. God said we would have poverty with us forever. He wasn’t kidding. We haven’t even begun to adequately solve that problem.
This might on the surface seem very negative and a reason to give up on anything and everything. Gary’s grandmother was fond of saying, “Patience is a virtue, and man hath neither.” True. The very nature of mankind is sinful and self-centered, impatient and prone to violence. There are problems around that have been with us since time began. My attitude is that if I can’t solve them, at least I won’t be the first one to fail, and I probably won’t be the last! Takes some of the burden off my shoulders and makes me less likely to expect perfection. Might as well do the best I can with each situation and see what happens. I might make a tiny difference.