Sunday, May 1, 2016

You are part of a cause larger than yourself!

Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week! I thought I'd pass along some encouragement I encountered while attending a great college commencement ceremony yesterday.

First was something one of the (many) speakers mentioned as an aside, regarding her professors: "They never belittled me for what I didn't know; instead they shared what they knew." What a nice encapsulation of what teaching can be. Even though I know not who or where you are, let me say Thank you, for sharing with your students what you know about your content and about living life positively.

2. The student speaker was from Traverse City, Michigan. She had children at a young age, but still transferred to the four-year university. For some reason she felt she couldn't move. So she commuted. Four hours each way. 30,000 miles in two years. As they say where my wife's from, Holy whuh! There are students out there who care about learning and growing. Not necessarily 30,000 miles' worth, but still. And some of them are in your class and have been blessed in their endeavors by . . .  you.

3. Last but not least, I saw a number of young men and women graduating not in robes and mortarboards, but in dress blues and whites. After being pronounced duly graduated, they took their oaths of office to protect and defend a country. Earlier, at the start of the day I had seen a squad of them in two parallel lines hoist and salute the colors of the nation they believe in and are dedicating their lives to. I realize that, like all human beings, they are doing what they do for various reasons, but it cannot be denied they will also be living for something larger than themselves. They did not merely go to college to get credentialed to get a certain job, in order to have a relatively enjoyable life at a certain economic level. They also will live for a larger purpose.

This can be true for most people, though it might take some mental recalibration. We can just exist or do a job to pay the bills and take the occasional trip (or -- Argh! -- pay the regularly-arriving tuition bills). Or . . . we can know and feel ourselves involved in an important cause, and wake up each day in order to serve in that effort. I would put to you, colleague, that you are involved in the mission to fight ignorance and incivility, and to promote reason and compassion. 

Trust me, I know that the tyranny of the urgent, the mud of the mundane, the drudgery of data-driven-ness all serve to distract us from what we are doing daily: dispelling darkness and engendering growth. But allow me to urge you to remember that we have the good fortune and joy (and yes, stress) of not merely having a day job, but being part of that great cause. We are part of a profession that has at its essence living for something larger than yourself. 

Take heart in that, and have a great Teacher Appreciation Week.