Educators celebrating one another improves education. As I’d been invited to mark the advent of a treasured colleague’s birthday, I went to find her some music – and not just any music, either. Given the challenges of our present and recent pasts, this event called for none other than Aretha Franklin. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, if I could get any. The funny thing was that after deliberating for several difficult moments and settling on the 15-track disc celebrating her Columbia years instead of the 30-track best hits, so did the birthday girl – as a gift, for me! If there’s hope, last tag, we’re it!
TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
— Howard Zinn