The best advice given to me many years ago when I started teaching had nothing to do with my discipline, English. Rather, a former mentor insisted on the necessity of having a sense of humor.
I have passed that advice on to younger colleagues over the years. It is impossible to survive daily contact with teenagers for any prolonged period of time without lightening up a bit when they actually act their age. Not seeing the humor in many of their predictable shenanigans is a prescription for disaster.
I have been thinking about that lately in light of the shenanigans of an older, presumably wiser group of individuals, politicians. The presumption of wisdom itself requires a light dosage of salt. Actually, politicians and teenagers have quite a bit in common. Having arrived at that conclusion, it helps me deal with the silliness that characterizes our national discourse these days. Were I not able to see the light side of the embarrassingly childish behavior of Congress these days I might have given up the ghost of citizen participation long ago. My present hope is that this too shall pass and at some point in time sanity and maturity might just gain the upper hand. In the meantime, a survival strategy requires taking things seriously while at the same time ducking the shadows of despair and continuing the climb, as did the inhabitants of Plato’s famous “The Allegory of the Cave,” towards the light.
A few weeks ago my wife, Sandy, and I attended an informational meeting for future volunteers at The Farmers’ Museum here in Cooperstown. As part of the process, one has to fill out an application form, provide references, have an interview, and then await the results of a BACKGROUND CHECK. One can see where I am going here. Frankly, I have undergone so many background checks in my lifetime, one more matters little and if one looks on the bright side, perhaps something I do not even know about myself might be revealed. Hey, if the Greek notion of knowing thyself still holds, I do not mind a little help at all. There are times when I am as much of a mystery to myself as I am to others. I have little to hide, so check away. I figure after the countless times over the years my passport and drivers license have been checked, if I am still free things are looking pretty good. The lovely irony here is that in order to weed a garden or two a few hours a week and, perhaps have minimal contact with tourists, a background check is required. I am all for it. It makes absolute sense. That leads me to the recent defeat of the latest attempt to require background checks when purchasing a gun.