Democracy will Survive

This afternoon, as I tried to corner my mind into one concise post, “State Representatives Justin Jones, Justin J. Pearson and Gloria Johnson — were facing expulsion from the [Tennessee] House, a dramatic act of political retribution” (New York Times). Jones, along with marchers driven to extremity in the face of obstinate denial, demanded law-makers reduce their gun-lobby-controlled agenda and do something, anything actually, other than offer up innocent citizens to the greed and profits of the weapons’ manufacturers. But, in all seriousness I really don’t want to write about guns in a country that is actually still debating the most basic gun control measures of any civilized country on the planet, like there are two sides to this? I also don’t want to write about the business man faced with 34 charges, all of which point to his sleazy dealings with women or country, anyone really, who stands in his power-mongering way. I did listen to Jonah Bromwich, a criminal justice correspondent for The Times, tell what it was like inside the courthouse as Mr. Trump was first brought in, and then charged, on The Daily podcast. The swagger, the bravado, and all the hype generally seen when this guy hits the pulpit minimized to two words, “Not Guilty.” The only words he uttered in court. Although he was warned by the judge to not rile people up with his harmful rhetoric, “to refrain from comments that incite violence or create civil unrest,” he was barely in the door at his Palm Beach playground when he did all of that. Ugh! This crazy crazy world has us all in knots and nightmares, in disputes over insanity and sanity, with a path that twists like Lombard Street. I’m done expounding words of obvious truth to airy illusion.

But I will tell you a few things the media neglects to mention when it comes to public education because that is the world I know for sure. Kids all over this country are doing their very best. They are navigating an avalanche of social media posts telling them they are not nearly enough, while also reminding them that their planet is dying, that the adults they look up to have failed to put anything right, and in the midst of that angst, they must face this teacher of literature (me!) who is demanding they read and respond and come to class with a healthy streak of intellectual curiosity. My seniors have finalized their Invisible Man essays, revealing their insight into the genius that is Ellison, while my Freshman are midway into Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, researching the correlation to the Scottsboro case and beginning to understand the systematic racism that is America. This is my real world. The only one in which I can enact change. This is at least what I remind myself tonight. As much as I would love my town, my county, my state, to gather up all the military-style weapons in the hands of civilians, and melt them into a beautiful sculpture of peace, I can only ask my students to read beyond the tiny drama-filled world they inhabit, and somehow that feels like a valid role. They awe me daily.

Spring in Vermont is a slow process. Days lengthen. The sun strengthens. Snow melt floods but green is slow to show itself. Today I saw the blue heron. That alone will buoy me for some time. Robins are prancing along all the grassy patches, with their cocked heads and hoppy energy. I too am erratic. High sailing and then crashing. Nothing feels stable in the transition between seasons. Oh April, you are a mess. But I must admit I am glad that you are here. Bring forth your buds and bird song. I am more than ready to celebrate the return of all those verdant accessories to my view.

Did I mention that I stopped following the news? Even with that declaration, it is impossible to escape after all. But today I am glad to walk out onto the field, watch the rivulets rush over all the troubles lingering, and stand under the broad sky. There is always a good reason to look up and acknowledge our collective good fortune, even though in Tennessee, or Florida, or Texas (oh my can we just say Red States) there is much work to be done first. America is ready to aid you. To teach humanity too.

As split as we appear, walking the Earth will unite us for sure. Democracy will survive, yes it flounders today, but oh, it grips us all. On this small planet we are one.

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