“Jonathan is experienced and proficient at improving students competency in English to the standard required for University study, be that study in the field of the Humanities or Business. By utilizing a strongly learner-centered approach, he is aware of the importance of flexibility in targeting his teaching to the aspirations and needs of his students. Above all, by sharpening and refining their powers of expression, he wants his students to grow in intellectual and analytical self-confidence so that they will excel as much as they are able, in both their University studies and the workplace beyond.” Jonathan, 2008
"In the world as it should be, men would not chase women. Women would chase men. Men would chase the Kingdom of Heaven." Jonathan, 1991.
"The problem with you, Mr Tillotson, is you need to live in a more gracious age than this." Father Anthony Meredith, SJ, 1994 (quoted from memory).
Recently, I've had some news. This news is still secret from my Kuwaiti boss. I have about five bosses in my company by the way, but it’s the Kuwaiti one who pays. The news won’t be secret much longer, however. Even though the chance of his reading my blog is quark-sized, amongst the few who care about my Most Royal Obscureness, word begins to circulate. I have a future and it isn’t him. This news might wing its way to him somehow.
Before long he will need to be told. He needs his notice period. The bureaucratic wheels of residency and work visa transference, which I have worried, possibly without cause, he might obstruct - hence my delay in informing him - need to begin their croaking, labyrinthine circuits. Actually, I’ve nothing against him at all. I have always found him rather charming, the two times I’ve met him. He has treated me well. But in the Game of the Gulf, so I sense, when in doubt, fortune favours the silent.
The words that I recently wrote, above in italics, are for some PR literature for my future employer. It felt weird writing it. It always feels weird, having to sell myself. I do not like doing it. I can’t help feeling it is in poor taste. But here, as in interviews if I want to stand a chance of succeeding, I had to force myself.
Actually, in this case the energy and zeal I mustered to get my new job surprised me. Typically, my efforts to secure work are less than half-hearted. Begrudged, weary expressions of resignation to wage slave reality are usually my style. Might it be, can it be believed: after seven years of not wanting to be a Tefl teacher, am I finally coming round to the idea?
There might be some truth in this. I’m not sure. Let me sit on that thought awhile. In any case, do not take this fancy as a cancellation of my invitation to you to suggest, or better provide, rosier, more meaningful avenues for my talents and potentialities – howsoever you may perceive them. As I have written before, I’m happier to be bought than to sell myself.
Where did I acquire my aesthetic, visceral, aversion to boasting. I realize what a feminised psychologist would say, dripping, oozing matronisation: You lack self-esteem. You should be more confident. You were not loved enough as a child. Don’t be so wet.
Whatever the status of these presumptious, intimidating observations, what interests me are the cultural, intellectual influences that might underwrite, shore up, justify my, admittedly, existential reluctance to boast, to loudly sing my own praises; especially to sing them where they belong to be sung, or so we’re told: in the two fields of endeavour that are supposed to matter the most to male egos keen to reproduce their genes and maximize their impact: before the faces of ladies, and in the search for employment.
I like to think I get some justification for what I like to consider not my weakness but my attachment to a gracious, sublimely higher life, from the life of Jesus Christ. Though clearly certain, if not arrogant, about his own importance when pressed, in his behaviour he was very humble; both preaching and enacting examples of altruistic service towards others (albeit a service that made him happy as well; well, until Gethsemane). The boasts he did make, when he made them (expressed most repetitively in the Gospel of John), tended to be made after he’d performed some outrageously cool miracle or delivered one of his heart warming wisdom speeches, stunning his audience into an imploring curiosity. He didn’t market himself as someone who should either be taken on trust, or found interesting to the exclusion of others. On the contrary, that we might be interested in and make space for others, was exactly what he wanted; that we should hunger and long for the happiness and joy of others, as God, with whom it is true he identified, hungers and longs for ours; for the happiness of his creations, their liberation from the dark consequences of their own self-chosen, self-enclosing, selfishness.
In a defence of myself against the accusation of betraying a wetness ill-suited to our shamelessly self-centred age, beyond Jesus, I would defer generally to a long tradition of thought in Christendom; a tradition which at least in its explicit intentions has sought to promulgate and promote ideals of self-sacrificing service and love. I acknowledge that such thought has not always, or even often, materialized in practical action; that charges of hypocrisy and failure to deliver are absolutely justified on occasions. But not on all occasions, I would hasten to insist. What we should remember about hypocrisy, moreover, which many Westerners, resentful and disenchanted with their own culture, seem not to want to see, is that at least hypocrisy reveals the existence of some standards, even if they are not kept. Not being hypocritical, not failing to be who you aspire to be, as a culture, is all very easy if what you aspire to be is exactly what you already are, or even less.
What I want to say in conclusion is that I dislike asserting and promoting my qualities in the abstract - by speaking of or referring to them (whatever they may be). I would prefer, unselfconsciously, to just show them, by just embodying them, to those who can or wish to see them. It is not for me to relate to you my value, whatever it may be. It is for you to perceive it, insofar as it is valuable to you. That goes as much, I feel, for a woman who might want to mate with me, as for someone who might want to give me money in exchange for some activity on my part.
If this leads you to suppose I should want to live in a very different world, then, in which, amongst other features, women were more proactive in the courtship processes ( there is no modern equivalent for 'courtship') and employers were more upfront in selling themselves to potential employees, whom they would conclude from their own perceptions were suitable for them, you would be right.
Such a world, sublime, gracious, abundant, sacrificing no standards of excellence on its altars of co-operation; peaceful and advancing according to a higher dialectic; in which the interactions of opposites occur through love, not war. This is the world that I come from, if I might be mythological for a moment. The world I want to see.