I am at work. Well, I am at one of the places I work. I do a chunk of private tuition these days, but I also work at a weekend school which, yes, is an unnecessary cruelty to everyone involved. But I like money so I don't frown too much. At this job, however, I teach classes, and there are other teachers, and occasionally, I even talk to them (I tend to spend most of my time talking with kids in classes). In recent months, I've noticed, by talking and by listening, that around my workplace there is a growing religiousness--and not just a nice, friendly, acceptable religious content, but a wild, out there, real mind fuck kind of religion, of which, as I walk out of a classroom, I hear another teacher say, "Jesus loves you."
That class had nine year olds in it.
On Saturday, during my break, I got talking with D who, I learnt a while back, is real hardcore Catholic.
"They need good Catholic morals," she says to me.
"Poor people with AIDS in Africa," I reply, "do better with condoms."
"They need morals. If they can't control themselves to not pass on that disease then they're no better than animals."
I don't actually remember how we got to this point. It was a jagged little map of morals relating to sex and sexuality. I seem to remember at one stage talking about homosexuality and how I, in my amazing wisdom, said, "I don't care who people fuck--and I really don't see what difference it makes to you, either," which I think was in reply to some statement that D had made about homosexuals being dirty. Well, homosexuals who have sex, that is. If you're gay and you don't fuck, you're okay. Me, I already have enough problem telling the kids not to use 'gay' as an insult; most of them do it without even thinking about why they're saying it, and it's just one of those ticks I've picked up. Say shit, say fuck, and I don't give a fucking shit, but say gay in a negative way and I pull you up on it. Go figure. At any rate, after this little comment, I got good and interesting in the conversation and it went everywhere, as these conversations do, and we devolved into how she thought having sex for pleasure was bad, and this went on to how people who have group sex, or who swap partners, have a mental illness.
It was a little insane, to say the least. I was taken back to all that LiveJournal SixApart shit from last week, where the religious fucks go up and decided to police the internet, but being in a real conversation, I found myself saying, "How's it an illness? If people want to do that, and they're good with it, how's it harm anyone?" I was about to add, "And what business of it is mine to tell somehow they can live," when D says--
"They'll care when Jesus comes."
"There are only two choices at the end of the world: Heaven or Hell."
She is looking straight at me when she says this. Maybe she's expecting the apocalypse right now, I don't know. It's not the first time she's said it.
You would think one day of this kind of thing would be enough, but it's not.
Back at work, there is a guy there who teaches the year twelve class on a Sunday, and who last week introduced himself to me with a different last name. I didn't ask, but I just figured that the change was due to some kind of religious bent. In my experience, people tend to change their last names for legal, marriage, and religious purposes, and nothing less. If you're a guy, you're down to two choices, mostly. Anyhow, come Sunday, and he's not there, and I'm covering his class, instead of my year four class, which is rather like a game show, of which I am the host, except I have no prizes to give away (a constant complaint, incidentally, by the contestants). Anyhow, I'm in this year twelve class for fifteen minutes, and then one of them says:
"We've spent the last five weeks being told that we're living a decaying society. That the morals of the world are breaking down. That the standards we live in are disintegrating. That we're all becoming the same. He told us all that we have the same haircuts. He's spent the last five weeks telling us what a bad world we're living in, and promising us the answer--every week he says, I'll tell you the answer, and last week, he told us."
She pauses. I wait.
She says, "He said it was Christianity."
"Yes. He didn't even say God. He said Christianity."
Half an hour later, they have worked themselves into such a state that they stage a mini revolution and I lose my year four class and gain a year twelve one.
Now, obviously, I don't need to point out the problems here, since the whole preaching with your teaching is just a bad deal, full stop. Telling seventeen and eighteen year old girls and boys they all have the same haircut is, likewise, some kind of suicide. It is possible that I think that the Sunday incident is worse than the Saturday, because the first happened in private, and the second happened from a position of power. But the real point I'm trying to figure is, what's going on? Did the air suddenly catch alight with religious fever? Okay, that's probably not it, and the truth is, it's probably just one of those things, in which a few things going on round me have a similar element, and I notice them. Truth is, however, that all these things have two elements that go through them: the first is that it's all religious inspired, and it's pretty far out there on the religion scale, and comes up against my way of thinking in big ways; but the second of these things, the connection that is perhaps even more important, is that in each of these--last week's livejournal fiasco, Saturday, Sunday--is that not one of them demonstrates any respect for the other person. Not one of them acknowledges that there is another person, an individual, a unique being with thoughts, ideas, and specific needs, and that those things are going to be of a different kind than the one being spouted by those with the heavy dose of Jesus, and that these differences need to be acknowledged and respected, cause otherwise it's just hate, bigotry, and people dying where they needn't.
And there ends my little observation for the world, in which we're all fucked, and the apocalypse isn't happening quick enough. Thank you for reading.