Author: Kate Bowers
Date: November 4, 2019
“Saboteur!” A teacher union member exclaimed accusingly. Shaking with disbelief and anger, it took restraint not to jab a heated reply right back. It took a few days to view my colleague with compassion; to accept her convictions may be in line with the union agenda, or she is unaware of union agenda and being swept along. Oh, how I ache for those who crossed the picket line and endured great insult, and will continue to endure even as the Chicago strike has ended. What is a proper response to insult?
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28* I was reminded of this verse yesterday. I had to ask myself: Do I respond this way? Specifically, is this my reaction to the teachers’ unions, who dislike what I stand for? Am I praying for teacher-union leaders? Are they really enemies?
Far too many public educators have endured the scorn of teachers’ unions. I’m choosing, with God’s help, to respond to their scorn with love. Matthew 22:39b* says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Who is my neighbor? And what is love?
My “neighbor” is everyone. Everyone. There are no qualifiers. I noticed it does not say, “Love your neighbor if they are ________________…” I could fill in the blank with so many things: “union members”, “non-union members”, “democrat”, “republican”, “Christian”, “atheist”. No, my neighbor is everyone. John 13:34, “Love one another.”* Period.
I take my definition of love from the same source: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8*
I had asked for a copy of the newly bargained contract, so I could read it before placing a vote to ratify it or not. That’s when I was accused of sabotaging the bargaining efforts. Unjustly accused, yes. I expect in this “fight” over education to be treated poorly many times.
I’ve realized my response to union pushback as I move forward in my convictions about education and the roles of teachers, parents and students in that endeavor must be in love. I cannot endure alone, so I pray for the strength to always choose right; to choose to love.
*Scripture taken from Holy Bible New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved worldwide.
Kate Bowers is the recognized Teacher Shepherd for For Kids & Country. Her writings may also be viewed on her blog at My Fellow Teachers.