I do not want to spend my time writing about our nation’s current leader. I feel that our first year under his presidency was dominmated by an endless cycle of comsumption of the most ridiculous, abusrd, offensive, and flat out scary stories that I and many others have read about in recent memory. This morning’s addition to this never ending stream of assaults on humanity and the earth disguised as tweets struck me in a way that I felt the need to reflect and write on.
I got the chance to catch up with an old friend, who was going to take her sons to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico this past weekend. As I was responding to her instagram post of success in the underground caves with kids, my phone was alerted of this story. I found it a sobering and sad juxtaposition of child/adult realities of our complex world.
These tensions and complexities are my trade as a history and geography teacher. It is my aim to help future generations identify and understand not only the broad themes of history covered in my classes such as power, conflict, and change but I also strive to have opportunities for students to deeply explore the details and nuances contained in everyday narratives. It is ideal when I can coax students into believing their own personal stories are worthy enough to bring into classrooms as authentic academic explorations. Yet in taking this approach to educating young people, it is often challenging to seperate the personal from the academic. Especially when national and global stories have direct implications on not only student populations that I have taught in the past… but real human beings whom I’ve developed relationships with.
Today’s episode of The Daily Podcast struck such a chord (defintely worth the 22 minute listen as it is on most days). As I drove tp work and listened, I couldn’t help but thinking of the many Salvadorian students that had an impact on me over the years, their families, and their now uncertain futures. It was upsetting to be reminded of the all too real history that I of course know and try to illuminate for student when I can in classes where America’s history and policy in Latin America presents itself as a focus. What was harder was to visualize the students whom I’ve known in my career who have been or were actively trying to be a part of MS-13 or who’s journies out of their war torn country was unimaginably terrifying and traumatic.
And although these realities have always been there… it is just slightly more demoralizing and difficult when you realize that our “leader” is purposefully disrupting people’s lives just because he can. Because he feels threatened and invulnerable all at the same time, byproducts perhaps of his sick conception of what it means to be both stable and a genius. Or perhaps this is just a newer version of what has always been a brand of American politics and culture. Either way it weighs heavily on the mind and soul.
The question for this year, and most likely for many years to come is: what to do about it? How will we sustain in the face of contiued callous attacks on humanity? One thing that continues to provide me strength is recognizing the seemingly infinite resilience of those who are under attack and continue to fight. Young people who find ways to grow despite the situations that would dictate otherwise. Though I think it is somewhat dangerous to disregard the realities and history of systemic oppression and inequality; I do think that the following tweet by Neil Degrasse Tyson is worth serious consideration… as are the commentary of responses lol.
Studying those who succeed in spite of broken childhoods might be more illuminating than studying those who don’t succeed because of them.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 8, 2018
What are some of your ideas on how to sustain mental and spiritual sanity as well as remained empowered in the face of so many challenges in the coming year? Would love to hear… #staystrong peeps!