Tomorrow I’ll be 71. It just can’t be true. My body feels good, everything works, and I love the work I’m doing. It’s embarrassing, really, to be so blessed. Last night at bible study we discussed the Parable of the Talents. I only listened because there was little for me to say. This is the story of the Master and his slaves. The master gave money (a talent was worth a 1,000 days of work) to his slaves according to their ability. The slave that received 5 talents from the Master invested them and doubled his money. Another slave doubled his money, too, but was given only 2 talents. The third slave got 1 talent, and hid it in the ground to keep it safe. He was angry with the Master because of the unfairness about how he was treated from the start, never getting a fair share of the money in comparison to the other 2 slaves. The Master was angry that the third slave had played it safe and took no risk in trying to invest the one talent. So he took it away from the slave and gave it to the one that had made the most money. Nothing about this parable seemed right. You can only invest what you have, not what somebody else has. And what is so wrong about saving the talent in order to be sure that you have at least that to rely on come a rainy day. The traditional lesson taught from the parable is that to those who are given great gifts much is expected. Or give a busy person the tough job and don’t give it to someone who has spare time because the busy person will figure out a way to do the extra work. But some of our friends last night thought that the parable really confirmed that life isn’t fair. The Master was heartless and manipulative and self-centered. There never was agreement as to what the parable was meant to teach.
Living a long time is a kind of money, a talent to be invested wisely so that there are dividends that pay back to future generations. When you approach the end of your life you must make certain that everything you have is used everyday for as long as you can with as much vigor and originality as you have at the beginning. The Master is that inner voice that pushes you on and either gives you strength and doubles your fortune, or makes you second guess yourself and limp through life. Regardless of what we are given genetically, or by chance, we must use what we have. That is what we emphasize with the children we teach and nurture. The only thing to be discouraged is unproductive fear, crawling into a hole for safety as life passes us by until it is too late. The little that we had, one talent, is taken away from us through fear because the decision we made was the wrong one. It may not be fair. But death comes to everyone and the only reward is to invest every talent we have- the best we can, while we can. That is also the lesson learned in special education.
Special education began with the riches of 5 talents that a few invested well. But as time wore one and jealousy and fear took hold, we stopped investing and growing the product, so that in the end, we buried it. We dug a hole with the philosophies and politics we practiced and are angry and confused that we are now left with nothing. The one thing we had- the law- was taken away from us and given to the rich. The master smirks, “You wicked and lazy slave…you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest (Matthew 25:14-30). You wicked and lazy parent-child-grandparents- family- you have robbed me. You have taken too much money from the school system and the state and federal government. When I gave you the law I thought special education would get fixed and I would not have to worry about it any more. You were to have invested it and made it work. Who is the master? Who is the slave? Who has been robbed? It may be that this parable is about viewpoint. Who you are determines what you see, feel, and get.
Before February begins, there are some news items of interest: