Dear Surly Amy,
I’m a high school senior who attends a relaxed Catholic School. We have occasional masses, and I’m still in the closet, but it’s pretty open door. I don’t rock the boat, and I’m honest if asked directly. In the homily of a recent mass, the priest played the old â€œatheists can’t disprove Godâ€ canard. I usually can it, but this time I raised my hand. The priest didn’t call on me, and I kept my hand up for the next five minutes until he finished. After all this, I’ve found the school to be different from what I expected. Teachers are critical: we had a long talk about what â€œpolitical suicideâ€ â€œmeansâ€. The student body took it better than expected: thumbs-ups and back-pats, a number of people I didn’t expect to approve took time to make sure I knew that they felt the priest was out of line too. Did I commit political suicide in the eyes of the teachers? Should I apologize? What do I do next time the priest says something? General advice?
I think it is absolutely wonderful that you are standing up for what you think is correct regardless of what the authority figure is saying. It takes a lot of bravery to raise you hand in a room full of people who have been taught to disagree with you. I salute you.
As for the warning of political suicide, if you are being warned that the the other students won’t vote for you for class president or sit next to you in the lunch hall because you have an understanding of science and critical thinking I wouldn’t worry a bit about it. I can’t speak for everyone but I can assure you that most of the readers of this blog and the leaders in skepticism, scientific discovery, education and communication have been outcasts at one time or another in their life and that it is no big f-ing deal. It just gave us all time to read more books and come up with more brilliant ideas! But if political suicide means that your teachers are threatening to prevent you from getting into a decent college then I suppose you have a problem. If they can somehow hold you back then you may have to play along until you graduate. It sucks but sometimes you have to play the game to get ahead.
I am not sure of the particulars of your situation but one thing I can assure you of is this: the drama of high school is not as big a deal as it may seem while you are in the midst of it and lucky for you, as a senior you are almost done! So set your sights on a good college education (that’s where the fun is) and continue to think rationally and be self-assured. We are rooting for you!
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