Being Unique

There are three types of people in this world.  The type of person you are depends on how well you handle the consequences of your actions.  

Some people do not understand that actions have consequences. They don’t understand that, for instance, going over the speed limit or running through a red light results in being pulled over by the police. We call these people “Intellectually Limited.” 

Some people understand that actions have consequences, but do not believe those consequences should happen to themselves. They know that going over the speed limit or running through a red light is against the law, but believe they are still in the right for doing so.  We call these people “Morally Limited.”

At least, that’s how we describe them in this new Politically Correct world.  In the old days, we simply labeled them “Stupid” and “Crazy”. It seems like you run into them more often these days.  Why? Because they don’t look where they are going!

There are consequences to your actions!  Your actions have consequences! There are those people who understand this concept.  We call these people “Unique”!

I am a teacher and I feel that one of my duties (of many) is to teach my students how to be “Unique”.  In order to do this though, sometimes I have to be a jerk!

I had to be a jerk this week.

Every morning the 1500 plus students of Alexander Hamilton High School in Milwaukee stand in a line that extends from the front door to the cafeteria, a distance of about 500 yards.  In this line, their phone is taken away from them and placed in a bin that will go to their last hour of the day. Next, their bags and possessions are searched for various contraband (weapons, electronics, drugs, etc.).  Finally, they themselves go through a metal detector after emptying pockets.

Pretty harsh, huh?

We are doing this because of an incident that happened last month on our campus, involving one of my students with special needs.  This young man had a vaping device on him one day and was using it in the front lobby of the school. One of our Safety officers asked him to relinquish it to him since smoking on campus is not allowed.  Words were exchanged, gestures were made and unflattering parental references escalated the situation.  

It soon turned physical and they fell into a glass trophy case, resulting in severe cuts and scrapes to both of them.  Medical attention was called and both parties were patched up.

Unbeknownst to all, the confrontation was being recorded on a cell phone by another student.  The video went up on a social media site and immediately went viral. It was eventually taken down, but not after it was shared and downloaded infinite times.

In response, the district informed our school that the NO CELL PHONE policy that we have written in our school handbook for the last 10 years now had to be enforced.

I don’t agree but I have to follow the rules like everyone else.  I think it is wrong to lump all students into the same category. Taking everyone’s cell phones is the equivalent of banning all driving because some people might be drunk.  But, this is now policy and since I am an authority figure at my school, I am obligated to enforce this. 

On Tuesday, one of my students told me that another student still had her phone. They had both gone to the bathroom during my 2nd-hour class.  The one with the phone showed it to the other girl, bragging how she had outsmarted the system. The other immediately told me. I confronted the girl about it.

At first, she denied it and challenged me to try to take her stuff, over her dead body.  I assured her that I wasn’t prepared to go that far and calmly convinced her to give the phone to me rather than Safety coming to claim it and turning my class into a “Jerry Springer” episode in the process!

After relinquishing the phone, she still did not think she should be held to the same consequences as the other students. She begged and pleaded for me to not turn it in and I caved.  I agreed to just hold it until the end of the day, this being her first offense as such.

Then another teacher became aware of the situation and “reminded ” me of my obligation in this situation.  I was torn. On one hand, I promised my student leniency and felt that the situation was resolved in a fair manner.  Unfortunately, this was no longer between us and it became very clear to me that administration would become “aware” of my circumvention of our policy.

I also became aware that this was a “unique” teachable moment in this student’s life, as well as the others.  I have been teaching them since day one that actions have consequences. Since this is the first transgression, I have to set precedent.  I have to show all future violators how far I will go in enforcing school rules, even those I do not agree with.

The student was mad, but I followed the rules and turn the phone in.  Her Mom came and retrieved it two days later. 

I haven’t seen another phone since.

As I was thinking about this blog this week, I began to perceive our current culture’s attitude toward discipline.  Every day in the news there are stories of people performing truly vile acts against others and fleeing to avoid the consequence.  It seems to me that hit and run accidents are on the rise. One story this week had a mother fleeing from police after she showed up to her child’s parent-teacher conference drunk!  She sped away in a car with her child!

Now, before I get too far into this, I must admit that I tend to flee from consequences myself.  I am just as guilty when I duck an uncomfortable phone call concerning a debt I owe. I avoid going to the Doctor or Dentist, fearful of what they will find.  I avoid topics with my wife, family, and friends because they may require me to make some sacrifices that I do not want to do at this time. 

When I get all tied up in something like this, it helps to calm my heart by turning to God’s word.

5b“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

    nor be weary when reproved by him.

6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:5b-11

There are consequences because that is how we learn.  We can tell a child that something is hot, but until they place their hand and feel the pain, the words have no meaning.  With free will, God lets us chart our own course, guided by our own actions. But, he also warns us in his word what the cost of those actions will be. 

Fortunately, Jesus saved us from the ultimate consequence of our actions.  We are sinners (Romans 8:23) and we deserve nothing less than death (Romans 6:23).  But Jesus took on humanity and suffered the consequences of our actions (Phillippians 2:8).  With that sacrifice, he forgave our sins and removed them from us, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)

 We can ask for forgiveness and repent, like the girl with the cell phone, but God uses discipline and consequences to change our thinking and behavior into something UNIQUE!

Prayer:  Dear Father, thank you for making me UNIQUE.  I thank you for your discipline and those consequences you have lessened for me.  Give me the wisdom to perceive the consequence before I take action. In Jesus name. Amen

If these words have impacted you, please feel free to share them on all your social media platforms.

1 thought on “Being Unique

  1. Thank you, you are UNIQUE!


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