Friday, July 22, 2011

Why I'm marching next week. Hope you join us!

If you want to see, you need to sit still. Still enough, for long enough, to be part of what is.
Be still and know.

You will know what it means when you get there--but first you have to sit. Still.

This is my Auntie Beth's pond, not mine.

I've gotten pretty good at sitting still on these cataract days, so humid even thoughts have a hazy edge.  A functioning republic needs a reflective citizenry--I sit by the edge of my pond and nap reflect, doing my patriotic duty.

If most of us knew what we wanted, and thought hard about how to get there, about what matters, and then pursued those things in ways that do not harm ourselves or our families, our republic could work.

Most of us don't anymore, most of us don't have the time, and the time we do have we pre-empt to the thoughts of others--Fox news, Cialis ads, NFL, Nascar--we've become the natterin' nabobs of negativism Agnew feared decades ago. (Full disclosure: I love Nascar and the NFL.)

It shows in public discourse, but even sadder, it shows in our private lives as well.

I am going to the SOS March for a few grand, and many selfish, reasons.

I will be chatting, laughing, drinking, maybe even dancing with generally happy folks who live the lives they believe worth living. Folks who still make bread, can, knit, brew, and write. Folks who give a damn, and who know enough history to know that giving a damn is how you fix things.

Folks who know their craft, and the history of their craft, well enough to know this march matters.

I am trading bottles of mead with Tom Hoffman, I am going to share words with Jose Vilson, I am going to shake hands with Diane Ravitch. Linda Darling-Hammond will be there, so will Jonathan Kozol. Heck, even Matt Damon (of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back fame)  is coming!

When I go back to school in September, and someone bemoans NCLB, I will share my stories from the march, so that they will join us.

My Dad marched in DC back in 1963 in his full dress US Marine Corp officer's uniform. (Yeah, he's that guy...) He was proud of being the first in his clan to be born in America, and he was proud to be a Marine. He got to fly because the USMC didn't care where he came from, only what he could do. He lived the American dream.

I have a copy of the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence up in my classroom. I teach science, true, but my primary responsibility is to create citizens. Not scientists. Not suits. Citizens.

I work in one of the few public spaces left in our country, one of the few places left where ideals of our republic are discussed earnestly.

When the discussions end, so does our republic.

We are marching "to reclaim schools as places of learning, joy, and democracy." Joy is a wonderful word, right up there with Jefferson's pursuit of happiness. Joy matters in a democracy, because we matter as people, as families, as communities.

Hey, it's going to be fun! And educational!


Clay Burell said...

Ever wish Jefferson had chosen a different word than "pursuit"? As if "happiness" requires chasing and hunting, instead of that being still you mentioned?

Old Joseph Campbell told Bill Moyers something along the lines of "Bliss is always flowing endlessly right there at our feet. And most people never see it."

Anyway, as usual you're fresh air. Enjoy that march.

doyle said...

Dear Clay,

Never parsed it--your question stunned me. In a good way.

OTOH, ol' Jefferson was no dope, and "pursuit of" may have been his way of slipping it in without getting all the Calvinists riled up.

(Even in my dark moments of pessimism, when I rationally chart out how all this is likely to pan out, a grin breaks out--we're on the side that dances to the music that surrounds us.)

Nancy Flanagan said...

Hey--I'm clipping bits from blogs to read on stage tomorrow at the Save Our Schools March. A paragraph of this excellent piece is included in the list. (I'm on the SOS March organizing committee.)

I've been a fan of your blog for a long time. Hoping that I get to meet you tomorrow.

doyle said...

Dear Nancy,

Cool beans!

(I'll be the guy wearing a Rich Uncle Pennybags t-shirt and a dinged-up "white" csnvas hat.)

Thank you for your hard work--this has been an incredible time for teachers, and the days leading up to this have been full of hope.

See you in D.C.! (Leaving in minutes....)