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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Feelings, nothing more than feelings

ap‧a‧thy  /ˈæpəθi/ [ap-uh-thee]
1. absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2. lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

I am so grateful for today, and excited about it, yet restful. I'm so conflicted about today. And yesterday. And tomorrow.

Today is Day-of-Prayer-and-Election-Day.

This morning I, after much temporary failure, found my Polling Center and voted for the first time as a property-tax-payer. (Not that I made any of my electoral decisions based on that factor.)

I'd been looking forward to voting today for a long while.

The ballot sheet brought me to the realization of what I'm going to do next, when I grow up: Run for Office. The majority of positions up for election had no competition. Only one person "running." I voted for them, after deliberating. Why is no one running against them?

Don't forget, I'm anti-competitive. I don't enjoy (or approve of) games or sports where the goal is to beat someone else. But, somehow my naive mind conceives of the political process as different. That one could run not for the sake of beating someone else, but for the sake of envigorating the system, for the good of all. That's how I tend to vote: for the system. Today I voted against all the incumbents (who had anyone new running against them, as long as they weren't crazy) and for the third-party candidate for governor. On initiative questions, I voted for independent businesses and against corporate giants. There is something in me that is passionate about breaking up the two-party system. I'm convinced that getting stuck in this red-blue/conservative-liberal rut is what continues two debilitating trends in society: 1) uncivililty, short-sightedness, and wacked-out priorities (it's all about re-election, never about now) on the part of the Party Faithful, 2) apathy on the part of the Young. Other than maybe one of the initiatives, and all the offices where there was no competition, none of my votes will "count" (for the winner). I haven't actually studied this, and am not speaking as a professor of political studies. I feel pretty strongly about it.

Students are overwhelmed with choices, things to do. We offer way too many legitimate, valuable options. It's unhealthy. I find myself frustrated when I put myself out to give students one more option, and so few show up. Yesterday we had a couple of very successful, experienced documentary filmmakers on campus, with over 40 films to their credit. I spent the last month recruiting students to attend a lunch with these artists. Exhorting young people who say they want to be filmmakers, and who say they want to be given opportunities to connect with the world outside our college, to come when given a special opportunity. Fewer than 10 students showed up (out of over 150 invited). Half of the students who said they would come (and were repeatedly asked by me to let me know if they were not going to come after all) did not show up, with no word of warning. I am very angry with them. "It cost me $10,000 in therapy to say that sentence. 'I was very angry with [my students].'" Disrespect, apathy.

It's wreaking havoc on my expectations, my feelings, my commitment to keep trying.

In the political system, we're not given enough choices. At school, we're given too many choices. The result (or entirely coincidental reality): paralysis, disrespect, non-communication or involvement.

And then there was the Day of Prayer.

Work is prayer
On my college campus, today is our Day of Prayer. No classes. After voting, I rushed to campus (trying not to feel rushed; what kind of irony is that?). This morning was Departmental Prayer time, and my department gathered with our neighbors the Art department. I expected me and a couple of faculty members to show up. How encouraging, attitude-changing, and envigorating to find that about a dozen students came, too.


Anonymous said...

Well, thanks a lot! You kept me from studying for awhile as I caught up on your blog. I'm glad I did.

I have what I think are similar feelings with regard to apathy and disrepect. Not two hours ago I said to a friend that I was a little worried about the future of our society because of my daily experience with my jr high and hs students. "They" don't want to learn, don't listen, and are disrepectful. (They're not all like that all the time.) In general, I get angry with the parents rather than the students.

And even as I made my comments to my friend, I guessed that there might not really be any change -- maybe I'm just getting old. I know that I listened in class, I did want to learn, and I did not show disrepect for teachers.

And I don't litter or steal other people's cheese.

Maybe it's entropy that leads to apathy and disrepect. But I've sometimes wondered if people who don't care (either just about others or about others/themselves) enjoy life more. Maybe they go through life like children, with less guilt or concern.

Rini said...

Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughts.

The idea that not caring leads to more enjoyment makes sense (intuitively), but goes against everything I believe in. It's like saying thinking about a movie takes away the pleasure of viewing it. Caring, thinking about things, these are what make us most human. The essential human characteristic (and value?) is choice. Don't get me started about the problem with people who can't/won't make decisions. They are dehumanizing themselves.

Also, thanks for raising your son to care and be respectful. He even likes reading encyclopedias with his Grandpa - he's that into learning.

Not that you'll be reading my blog again anytime soon. But it was nice of you to stop by.