Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Which My Dreams Turn to the U.N.

This has been one of the quarters at work where I find myself thinking of other careers.  Like being a U.N. relief worker.  I daydream of taking crates of food to Africa to bring relief to famine victims.

Sure, I'd have to deal with evil dictators and corrupt militaries.  And I'd probably get sick with strange diseases.  So, maybe not a good idea.

Still, I dream of bringing high nutrient nut paste to the mouths of children.  I find myself thinking of my college friend with whom I used to argue over what form of social justice was most important.  I remember one conversation where she said she could support feeding starving babies because they were truly deserving.

But I'd be happy to bring high nutrient nut paste to starving stomachs anywhere.  At the end of the day, I'd know I saved some lives.

Of course, it isn't that simple.  I may have saved a person's life one day, but it's still band-aid work.  I still won't have solved the larger issue of hunger and starvation.  I won't have changed the social system that leads to it, and I certainly can't change the weather systems that are going to subject us all to ever more extreme weather.

Some day we'll look back on this summer's droughts and we'll laugh at the way we thought they were severe.  That's what scares me.

In the meantime, I have my own band-aid work to be doing.  I'd like to change the larger structure of post-high-school education here in the U.S., but on a daily basis, I've got a department to try to help keep running smoothly.  There are students who need classes and teachers who need students.  It's time to create the schedule for Winter quarter and for our Fall midquarter classes.  The dance continues, and I'll try to keep my Zen teahouse calm (see yesterday's post to understand that concept more fully).

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