Land of Confusion.
Today is going to be an interesting day. Applejack, a pretty reliable and straightforward pony, has a look of legitimate concern on her face. Today is going to be a Rainy Friday, which is never a good thing in public education. In addition, it is the day that our new President will be sworn in…and to my students, he has been a pretty controversial figure.
I can’t say in good faith that I care for him as either candidate or actual Chief Executive. I try to keep those views separate from my students though…I would rather that they make their own judgements about things like news and current events. Amazingly, Mr. Trump has proven enough of a polarizing figure that he has actually stimulated my students to pay attention to current events, and flirt with being politically active. I’ve been teaching for eighteen years, and this is the first time I’ve seen that happen.
Expecting that there will be emotional distress and possible class walkouts, the District has declared today “Unity Day.” There are lesson plans and activities based upon getting students to focus on positive things, and attempt to “come together.” There have been “inspirational quotes” at the beginning of classes, over the loudspeaker during the week, delivered by any teachers that care to give them. One teacher pretty much reminded the students of the option to “walk out” on class, while simultaneously expressing that this time, there would be Consequences.
I wasn’t really sure of the message there, to be honest.
My lesson plan today will continue with the idea of verifying the credibility of sources, and speak to the origins of new words in the language. One key thing that we will be looking at is the Oxford “Word of the Year” for 2016, “post-truth.” It’s most often used in conjunction with the noun “politics”, making post-truth politics a new media buzzword. The phrase refers to our world now, where provable fact is less important than perspectives or feelings.
I oscillated on what to draw for this post. I considered something really, really sarcastic…and then decided that I didn’t want to have that point of view. Then I considered something positive, some sort of America Themed Superhero Art, but wasn’t “feeling it.” I considered an Avengers Unity piece, but really didn’t want to get into the backstory of the Avengers Unity Squad…as well as wanting to let Unity Day happen before commenting on it.
I settled on Applejack because Applejack embodies many of the simpler qualities that Americans are known for, when they are at their best. Hard work, loyalty, honesty, reliability. Close family values, and a sort of common business sense. Success without being ostentatious. I feel like Applejack, being a practical farm pony, would watch the day unfold with cautious optimism.
Really, though, I think of the lyrics to “Land of Confusion,” by Genesis, any time I think of the inauguration:
“Now did you read the news today?
They say the danger’s gone away
But I can see the fires still alight
Burning into the night.
There’s too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there’s not much love to go around
Can’t you see this is a land of confusion?
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in.”
Today, a big part of my job may very well be attempting to prevent things from getting out of hand. To get to those last lines above, and try to explain to a group of angry, scared young people that they can begin to effect real change in their own community. That might be tricky, it might be easy…hard to say.
I agree with Genesis, and Applejack. I’m definitely concerned by many recent events in politics, and certainly looking at the political landscape (post-truth) with a healthy amount of caution.