Friday, June 27, 2008

Consistency - Not Just for Bowel Movements Anymore

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th Century Smart F****r.

I've learned one important thing as a teacher. (Yes, it is possible for a teacher to learn. Not likely in my estimation, but possible):

Consistency is important, but never let it interfere with what needs doing. If the lesson plan says everybody has to do "A" before "B" but little Billy (it's always "little Billy") doesn't need to because Billy thinks like a mountain goat and can leap from idea to idea all fast and nimble and without the safety net of the lesson, then let him leap on to "B" right away. Nobody gets hurt and maybe somebody gets helped.

I hope I remember this when I come home and when I'm in the real world, because it's a damn helpful way of dealing with the world.

And I'm trying to remember it this week thinking about FISA. And Obama. Obama and FISA. I was pretty pissed at him earlier this week because my expectations of what he would do on the new FISA legislation evidently don't match his plans for it. Damn him! Why isn't he listening to the heartfelt telepathic messages I'm sending him! How dare he! I'm supporting him, after all!

Seriously, I was really mad. I've called his Washington office twice in the last week to let him - his voice mail, actually - know how I feel about this whole FISA FU. Called all my other representative members of Congress too. I recommend it. It's not hard. I used to be all weird and nervous about this, afraid maybe, though in retrospect I don't know why. Just be nice, be calm, be polite and speak your mind. It feels good, too.

And afterwards, in the self-righteous glow of responsible citizenship, I calmed down a bit and started to think. Obama has his reasons for whatever he does on FISA. I may not agree with them, assuming he tells me. I don't expect a personal call of explanation, not even a postcard, but I'll look for that special nod next time he's giving a speech that's just for me. Just like I'm sure Johnny Thunders looked "Right at me!" once.

So, maybe Obama knows about consistency, too, I began to think. Am still. It's possible. And I like the idea. I like the idea of a leader who can change his mind because he knows he has to. I know the feeling. So I'm gonna give Obama benefit of the doubt, I've decided, because he must think he has to do whatever he's gonna do. I have to learn to trust this guy if I'm going to accept him as my President. It's been a lifetime of not trusting our leaders and yelling at their flat-ass images on TV that built up that wall of cynicism Obama's campaign has been helping me to tear down. I just hope it works.

PS - That's Emerson's grave up there. Been there. Beautiful, restful, lovely. And it's in, Honest Injun, "Sleepy Hollow Cemetery"! Concord, Massachusetts, if memory serves. You could kill yourself there, tripping over the graves of 19th century dead people who shaped their world and ours with their minds and their words. We need more dead people like that. Or living people. Whichever.

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