Appreciation (A Post About Thanks and Adding Value)
It’s a tough stretch for much of #oklaed and those in whom we’ve invested our recent energies.
Primaries seem like so long ago, runoffs are still a month away, and the general elections… oh dear, the general elections.
The Republican National Convention has been a mess so far, and there’s no telling what its Democratic counterpart will be like. Nationally, the ‘Right’ openly despises us while the ‘Left’ suddenly wants to befriend educators over edreformers. Do we run to the guy who beats us or trust the one who keeps cheating on us?
Locally, animosity over policies and posts has spilled offscreen as the provocative becomes personal and the political, omnipresent. I’ve unwittingly conflagrated several one-on-one conversations as I let tone trump substance and forget that the argument is never more important than the person.
Privately, I hear again and again how whipped people feel – teachers, administrators, parents, bloggers, advocates, candidates… even sitting legislators. It’s not quite despair, but it’s certainly not some new form of radiant hope.
Teachers are stressed as back-to-school nears, and the realities of larger classes, fewer resources, and a haunting lack of actual clarity about just what’s expected THIS year hover over its approach. There’s something… taunting about the realization that – once again – new end-of-instruction tests are being proposed and new guidelines for ‘The Annual Shaming’ via A-F School Report Cards are being introduced and OMG-what-exactly-were-we-fighting-for-how-is-this-new?
Of course, such things seem petty in light of mad loners shooting our best, power continuing to abuse our weakest, and rationalization and cognitive dissonance stamping out the last bases for a “national conversation.” Different lives matter only to specific groups of people, and language is chosen to obscure intent so we don’t have to be honest even with ourselves about the true states of our hearts and minds.
Also, it’s hot. Like, Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot.
Still, I believe.
I’d like to take a moment and appreciate what many of you are doing, and how you’re doing it. I’d like to add a different perspective for those of you struggling with your own at the moment. And I’d like to point out an increase in value. An increase in hope, and quality, and style - because of you.
Thank you, so very much, to all of you who ran in hopes of improving our collective situation and came up short in your party’s primaries this season. Your efforts made a statement, and your words and your handshakes and your time made a difference. We may not see it all yet, but you cast your bread upon the water and it will come back, even if it takes many, many days.
You spent your time and money and put yourselves out there, drawing questions and criticisms and sometimes mocking disbelief that you’d even dare think you could make a difference.
I want to assure you that you have, and that you still are, and that anyone who says otherwise is either lying or wrong on an epic scale. And I’m right about this.
Thank you, so very much, to those of you still running – in whatever party – in the sincere conviction that we can do better, and that we don’t have to marginalize, segregate, or bully our way into prosperity for a few at the expense of the whole. You’re still in it, but sometimes secretly envy those you defeated in June – the ones who’ve gone back to their ‘real lives.'
Thank you for sacrificing yourselves and the comfort and security of your families and friends for the good of the rest of us. It matters. It matters whether you win or not, and it matters even if we don’t always agree with you on every little thing. You’ve thrown yourself into the breach, and we cheer you wildly. Illegitimi non carborundum!
Of course we want you to win – it’s something that colors every conversation and nags at every day for me. But even if you don’t, your voice has had and will continue to have an impact. Your efforts are not and will not be in vain. The results we can count and see are important, but they’re only part of the story. Faith, I’m told, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Have faith in what you’re doing.
Thank you, so very much, to those of you advocating on your blogs and on social media and in the press and through personal messages. I write about candidates and positions and like to think that I play a role, but I’m humbled and amazed by colleagues and peers who share their hopes, their fears, their experiences – even their pay stubs – in hopes it will make an issue a bit clearer or a position somewhat more relatable.
I’ll let the rest of you in on a blogger secret – we value and appreciate the kind words, the shares, even the respectful clarifications or disagreements… but we feel the venom and the vitriol sent our way, no matter how small a percentage of the whole. It follows you into those moments just before sleep or jumps you while you’re showering yourself into consciousness the next morning.
Your mind knows the importance of perspective, but your inner dialogues doesn’t want to let that scab heal sometimes.
OK, not me so much. I actually find the abusive feedback dynamic rather bizarre. But the less dysfunctional, more emotionally stable bloggers and advocates, with perspective and souls and better tastes in entertainment – many of them feel it more deeply than you’d think. And I love them, and I thank them. The blogs, the Facebook posts, the candidate lists - the work they do, and the knowledge they share. I adore them.
Thank you, so very much, to those of you who disagree with grace and style. You speak and write to a mutually-defensive group not always known for receiving constructive criticism well, but you speak up anyway because you care about truth. Thank you to those of you who risk backlash because you believe reality is an essential ally to meaningful improvement. Some of you are quite funny, which makes pretty much anything palatable as far as I’m concerned, while others are simply well-spoken and sincere. How do you DO that?
God forbid we ever deteriorate to the point we merely echo one another, broken up only by periodic pats on the back. Thank you for your blunt-but-gracious dissent, and for establishing a tone of mutual respect – the maintenance of which it then becomes our obligation to maintain.
You make me want to think more clearly, and write more gooder. You prompt me to check my attitude – especially when I’m on what I believe to be a righteous tear. Gracious but reasoned dissent forces all of us to become better thinkers.
Once, I even realized I was wrong about something. Not that we want to always go THAT far.
Take care during this stretch of mortal plodding. Stay cool, and drink plenty of water. Love someone it’s hard to love and say something nice to someone annoying.You amaze me, people. You make my part of the walk so much better, and this fallen world slightly more tolerable.