2017, man. What a ride so far, eh? I think it’s safe to say that in the last two months we have seen both the ugliest and most beautiful parts of humanity. I never knew I could be so skeptical and yet so optimistic at the same time. I think I’ve been doing the same thing as many others; sifting through the ugly, looking for silver linings in an ocean of differing opinions. And deciphering the sentiments of a nation divided is a lot like Alice jumping through rabbit holes, unsure of what she’s looking for or what even comes next.
For those of you who don’t already know, I’m a public school teacher. Furthermore, I’m a teacher in a school with a diverse multicultural population. I get the joy of guiding our littlest scholars from the very beginning towards academic enthusiasm. Or rather, I try to. So yes, I was part of that collective sigh when it was recently announced who would be appointed at the top of the educational food chain in D.C. I worry like many others because I’m actually down here, in the trenches. Let me tell you, teachers are amazing human beings. All things considered – our lack of funding for things as paramount as technology and as simple as enough toilet paper distribution to manage the school – all of the educators I know are still marching on. It’s what we do. Because it’s not about us. I’ve got 25 kindergarteners, from all different backgrounds, who depend on me daily. So even though things have gotten ugly, I’m not peacing out. Because that changes nothing.
Each and every one of us in this country today is playing a subtle role in what feels like one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. And I think many angry people could learn a lot from the public educators who have dedicated their careers to children. We’ve handled numerous blows in recent years with an articulate grace. Please, ask me my thoughts on the voucher system. Or the pay scale for the professional career I have devoted my life to for the last decade. I will tell you what I know without bias or slant to the truth. I will share with you my “war” stories and the triumphs and tragedies of plowing through a whole mess of ridiculousness for the greater good of education that matters. Switching lenses to an even bigger political picture, I think we’ve certainly lost sight of some of the most beautiful threads in the fabric of our nation.
I’m not a hard core liberal or a die-hard conservative. I’m just an American, trying to carve out my existence somewhere in the middle. I’m a person who sees compromise as the only answer to a whole lot of messy questions right now. It’s what I use in my classroom daily. That and a whole lot of empathy. Because I haven’t been in every little person’s shoes who comes up for hugs in the mornings. I’m just there to love them and encourage them to the best of my ability.
Every year I teach a unit about simple machines. If you exist somewhere in the kingdom of academia you’ve probably heard the acronym STEM. It stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. There has been a huge push in this direction with good reason. We want kids these days on the cutting edge. It totally makes sense. The irony lies in the lack of funds to do so. Anyway, I digress.
So, in simplest terms, the “fulcrum” is the part of simple machine where movement happens. It is the pivot point. Without the fulcrum you are dead in the water, so to speak. The load has nowhere to go and “force” becomes moot. I think 2017 is definitely a fulcrum year. We are at a pivotal state of being and could shift in any given direction at this point. The weight of this country is heavy and the force being utilized for change feels unstable and inconsistent. That last statement points fingers at no one particularly. It’s going to take all of us to move the load. Go ahead, re-read that last sentence.
Reality is this: Life is not about highlight reel. We’ve all got one of those. It’s also not about who gets the best snarky jab in out here on the interwebs. And it’s not about shaking our angriest fists. I mean, we could all do that. The pharmaceutical industry would love it. High blood pressure and anti-depression medication usage is probably soaring at the moment. But the beauty of real change relies on the slow steady heartbeat that incessantly plows through all the hardship. That may be a tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is. And without the ups and downs of the proverbial rollercoaster, there would be no ride. We must go through turmoil if we are ever going to make change. It’s true. Turn around and look back in history. All major shifts in the direction of this country come after certain disorder. We can do this. We’ve done it many times before.
Don’t forget once in a while to turn around and look back at the chaos from which you personally have overcome. Furthermore, look at all the chaos this country has overcome. You might just see the ashes from which we rose.