I took a placement test today in preparation for another French language course I am planning to take in January. There were four other people in the room taking the same listening test which was meant to assess our competence in French in order to place us in the appropriate level. The instructor had other administrative duties to attend to so she left the room for part of the test. At one point, I heard some talking across from me and looked up to see one woman whispering the answer to another woman. I was rather stunned and hoped my stern glare would squelch the behaviour, but the dishonest woman seemed oblivious to anyone else and all my looks were wasted. I hoped it was just a one-time lapse in judgement, but every time the one woman hesitated, the second one said the answer out loud, loud enough for me and perhaps others to hear. I could hardly believe it! I wondered what part of her mind believed that helping her friend cheat on a placement test would ensure this friend a better and more thorough learning experience!
I felt bad for both of these women. The one lady was struggling with a few questions and instead of looking forward to having a teacher help her with those particular language issues, she accepted someone else's answers as an easy way out, perhaps never thinking that being placed in a more advanced level than she merited could be frustrating, embarrassing, and hinder her progress. The other lady was no friend to the first one. The smug look on her face revealed her motivation was not compassion for a fellow student, but pride in knowing the answers. She showed a complete disregard for any implications her actions might have on others.
It is hard to watch someone foisting injustice on another. Here are a few quotes from Eugene Peterson on the role of the prophet that stirred me and put things in perspective this afternoon:
"Everyone more or less believes in God. But most of us do our best to keep God on the margins of our lives or, failing that, refashion God to suit our convenience. Prophets insist that God is the sovereign center, not off in the wings awaiting our beck and call. And prophets insist that we deal with God as God reveals himself, not as we imagine him to be. These men and women woke people up to the sovereign presence of God in their lives. They yelled, they wept, they rebuked, they soothed, they challenged, they comforted. They used words with power and imagination, whether blunt or subtle."
"They [prophets] contend that everything, absolutely everything, takes place on sacred ground. God has something to say about every aspect of our lives...Nothing is hidden from the scrutiny of God, nothing is exempt from the rule of God, nothing escapes the purposes of God. Holy, holy, holy. Prophets make it impossible to evade God or make detours around God. Prophets insist on receiving God in every nook and cranny of life. For a prophet, God is more real than the next-door neighbor."
These are the books on my desk right now.