You may well be wondering where I am headed with this piece of commentary. I have been meandering a bit to this point. Let me suggest that I am starting on a journey of knowledge and enlightenment. However, I believe that, in this instance, I find myself operating within an area of personal ignorance.
There, I have said it. I have opened this visit with you by admitting that I am ignorant. That is the first step one must take during the journey from ignorance to knowledge. For me to claim ignorance simply means that I believe myself to be unaware of, or not sure of something. For those of your who really know me, you know that I have been on a journey in pursuit of knowledge for a long time now, so in this case, ignorance does not equal stupidity. In addition, I have never claimed to know it all when it comes to the fire service or weight control.
It is my hope that you appreciate the title of this visit with you. For those of you who are conversant with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount from the Book of Matthew, the genesis of my title will make sense to you. Many know this section of the Bible as the Beatitudes. That section was the basis for the sermon which was delivered by Chris Van DeBunte, our Associate Pastor.
The title for this piece came to me while I was listening to him speak about the meek. You have probably heard the phrase, "...blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." One part of Chris' discussion on the subject of meekness involved an acknowledgement by the meek person of their own personal ignorance. His words and my thoughts suddenly began to come together.
It is my belief that this all makes sense when you take ignorance as the starting point for the journey to a place of knowledge. To be ignorant is simply not to know something. Like many of my previous visits with you, this one has its beginnings on the way to church in Colts Neck, NJ. My wife and I had just picked up our friend Marge Wilson at her home on Howell Road. Marge worships with us at the Colts Neck Reformed Church and she travels with Jackie and me most Sundays.
On the way over to church we began discussing the dilemma facing the school systems here in the Garden State. Since our governor has declared war on public employees and their unions, this is a topic close to our hearts. I am a retired civil servant and my wife works as a school nurse.
Governor Chris Christie sees my wife and I (and people like us) as a real drain upon the citizens of New Jersey. He has gone so far as to declare us to be a bunch of selfish, money-grubbing pariahs, who do not give a hoot in hell about the people who are paying taxes to support our lavish life style. What a boob. But then again, he is a lawyer and a politician, so what should I expect.
In all my years as a firefighter, captain, and battalion chief in Newark, I never once saw a politician humping the line through the front door. They talked a great game as they cut our budget and supplied us with endless amounts of low-bid crap for equipment. However, we were the ones who carried the water every time our lifesaving services were needed.
What I do remember is paying into my pension account every two weeks. I did this because it was the law. The city and state have not been paying into the pension regularly for well over a decade. The law says that they should be paying, but because the politicians write the laws, I guess they are allowed to violate those same laws. Ah, but I digress.
Part of the discussion between Marge, Jackie, and me evolved around the fact that it was always the workers who were made to suffer. Teachers and paraprofessionals are set to be laid off. Lives are being disrupted, while at the same time people in administration at these self same boards of education are steaming along as though nothing were wrong.