I have hesitated to write about the election, as I never want my students to feel they must agree with me politically (or in any other non-academic part of my life). That is, I would never judge a student in my class if he/she held differing political, spiritual, or personal beliefs than I do (and I would certainly never allow any of those things to enter into a class grade).
So with that big caveat, I do want to say a few things about the recent presidential election. I think elections can often divide people rather than bring them together. In fact, I must confess that a small part of my excitement last Tuesday night was that my "team" won. But the biggest part of my excitement was that I completely believe (with my heart, mind, and soul) in Barack Obama, as both a leader and as a person. He really is about hope, about getting things done while listening to all sides, about positive change--that is, he is about hope, not fear. I think fear is the overwhelming emotion our society has felt in the last 7 years (fear for safety, fear of others not "like" us--both in and out of the US, etc.).
Fear is an overpowering emotion. It isolates us and traps us in "small mind" (unable to see the bigger picture and to feel empathy and compassion). Fear is what the Bush administration so successfully played to in the American people. Fear is what the 24-hour news networks also play to. (In addition, fear is what many marketers play to. For example, "buy this face cream so you don't look so old" or "buy this magazine so you can lose 10 pounds and then be happy".)
When Barack Obama was elected president (and during his whole campaign) I felt a shift in the collective attitude of people--a shift from fear to hope. From hatred to love. I know this sounds a bit over-reaching, but that's the feeling I have, and it makes me very happy. Kindness is such a better place to work from than fear. With kindness and hope we can bring people together (rather than isolating them with fear), and we can create a space where people feel comfortable again--comfortable just being themselves. Then all our work becomes more efficient and effective.
In past posts I've talked about giving loving-kindness a try (rather than the often-used self-flagellation methods of motivation). Try working with loving-kindness --both toward yourself and toward others. After Tuesday night, I feel like the country is trying out loving-kindness, rather than fear, and that honestly brings tears of joy to my eyes.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Students at Lawrence learn and grow in a variety of ways (both academic and non-academic) while at college. Life at Lawrence (and in general) can be fast-moving and busy, so it’s important to prioritize regular, reflective personal time (something I've mentioned in previous blog entries). A committee at Lawrence recently wrote a statement on “healthy balance” (for the whole community--students, staff, and faculty), which I completely endorse:
Posted by Joy at 4:13 PM