My students are familiar with my comments and jokes about my not being easy. I expect, for example, that they challenge themselves to identify as students in contrast to merely being “in school” (identity vs location). I expect them to interact with the 40 other people in the room. Shy? Me, too! Tough. Get to know each other and practice counting on one another.
I am not easy on elected officials, either. I go to village meetings and speak at almost all of them. If they don’t know that I am interested in pedestrian safety, it is not because I have not repeatedly noted the need for clearly demarcated crosswalks. Is the topic of discussion garbage collection? I will introduce the implication of expenditures on the improvement of pedestrian safety! New furniture for the board room? Obviously connected to pedestrian safety! In the issue of addressing this issue village trustees, I am completely ready to persist.
But I don’t mean to suggest that I am too difficult, unbending, or mean. Rather, I just don’t believe that being easy is my goal in life, inside the classroom or not. In a cab or Uber, I talk with the driver and don’t mind getting into politics or religion. I ask neighbors and family members about their political views and, if their choices are deeply affecting my life and the lives of those I love, I let them know that, too. Many so-called reality TV shows have at least one person who says, “I didn’t come here to make friends.” Well, that is not true of me. I do come to make friends. However, being my friend is not likely going to be easy. Ideally it will be rewarding.
Still, I recognize we in the US are increasingly on the train to Easy.
- Just click here to learn more.
- You might also be interested in what happened to this child star.
- NPROne…your favorite programs curated just for you.
- You’re one click away from the home of your dreams.
- We’ve made this bottle for you to suck on instead of drink from.
- Easy-open wrappers for individual portions of cheese.
But for me learning does not start with a click. It starts with the hard work of vulnerability. I am not interested in celebrities, child stars or otherwise. My favorite programs are not always my favorites, so basically “curating” programs for me means limiting my access to what I need and want by increasing the ease associated with familiarity. The home of my dreams has my late husband living it in; he will not be clicked back to life. I don’t like sucking on a bottle and find it a bit gross when some other people seem to like it too much.
Over time I have lost most of the discomfort I once associated with commenting on poor service or flawed performance. In the past week, for example, I reviewed a shopping mall, a restaurant, an Uber ride, an AirBNB site, an ad for heart medication, and a retail store. I believe it would be mean to criticize thoughtlessly the performance of a front-line worker if I failed to think also about their experiences with management. My retail complaint this week reflects that. I commented that I came to buy bed linens, but the outlet/online/catalog model of their business failed to stock merchandise or samples in their physical stores. The result is that the employee has a bit of a “that’s-tough-it’s-how-we-roll” attitude in a company that does the same in its policies and procedures. In fact, their canned corporate response was completely clear in its failure to even read what I had written them.
My response to the recent presidential election is not easy either.
The analysis of election results has been a festival of blame. Some say we have underestimated working class anger, white racism, and misogyny. Some say Democrats relied too heavily on polling, technology, and algorithms. Some are called elites and others are called baskets of deplorables.
In the end, I believe that the blame festivities fail to consider a more broadly shared phenomenon, one that is at once milder and more difficult. In steadily reducing our civic action over the past four decades to the vote, we have relinquished our meaningful engagement with each other as citizens. The results of this are far reaching. Here are but a few:
- People decrying organized protests, but minimizing random acts of violence which actually fit larger patterns of endemic misogyny, xenophobia, and racism.
- LGBT people urging silence about impeaching Mr. Trump for fear of getting stuck with Mr. Pence.
- Treating the presidential election as a giant Rorschach test upon which we can hurl our feelings about life and access to wealth.
- Executive compensation that results in pay per hour for a few that is higher than average worker salaries per year for everyone else.
- More than 1/3 of the electorate failing to vote.
- Citizens wondering aloud if there is anything they can do in the current political climate.
- Staff of congressional offices suggesting that complainants call the incumbent’s campaign office instead of their actual district office.
- City council meetings attended by fewer than two dozen residents.
- Almost all local political party meetings held in alcohol venues.
- Painfully limited involvement in union activities.
- Almost all health insurance companies being traded on the stock market, thus putting the much maligned Obamacare so-called death panels into our very own mutual-fund-laden retirement plans.
- Slashing civics education in schools across the US.
- Wearing a safety pin instead of having an explicit conversation with people in danger.
- Gated “communities.”
This shit is heavy. I will not sugar coat that news. Bernie supporters and white women are not to blame. Neither are the so-called elite or the white working class. We are all responsible for getting on the Easy train that took us to this destination.
Yes, it will be hard work to bring us back. Tough.