This evening, within a twenty-minute span, I hear that my Congresscritter (Charlie Wilson) has pledged to vote yes on the health-care bill. Then I read a student paper that made me cry with gratitude, because it’s beautifully written, and because she says my class had “influenced me on a personal level more than any class I have ever taken.” A few minutes later, another student says the class changed her life. And then another.
I take only very partial credit. These kids mostly have very supportive families, and those who don’t have shown amazing fortitude in getting into college. They have survived the full spectrum of human tragedy: divorce of their parents, death of parents and spouses and other loved ones, brain tumors, rapes, unwanted pregnancy, and post-traumatic stress, just for starters. They’ve been an extraordinarily intelligent, engaged, and open group, despite the large size of the class (90 at the beginning, 74 now).
Also, I didn’t originally create this course on religion, gender, and sexuality. A colleague of mine designed it. I now feel like it’s “mine,” in my gut and heart and mind, but only after teaching it three times.
So when I say I’m grateful and humble rather than “proud,” please believe me.
And Charlie Wilson? What does he have to do with my students? Well, he joined them in proving that people can surprise us. Their inner compass can point toward integrity, even when the political landscape is constantly shifting. For his courage to do the right thing (and never mind Stupak), he too has my gratitude.
Or maybe it was just that email I sent him yesterday, threatening never to canvass for him again if he didn’t vote yes? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, though, and say he listened to his conscience instead.
Whatever the case, my cynicism about politics and my doubt about the efficacy of teaching have both been lightly buoyed away like the first airborne seeds of spring.
And no, these guys don’t propagate by seed, but they’re the prettiest crocuses I’ve got so far this year. Photo by me, Sungold, taken in my backyard two days ago.