Friday, October 8, 2010


He was so excited by the endless possibilities of rejuvenation that his mind raced on. 'Of course, when the ducks return, the geese may leave. Then we'll change again and they'll come back. The entire bay can be revived, every one of its eight thousand coves...' He hesitated. His face grew somber. 'Unless, of course, we have so contaminated the oceans that they can no longer send fresh tides and fish into the bay.' He shrugged his shoulders. 'Mankind was destined to live on the edge of perpetual disaster. We are mankind because we survive. We do it in a half-assed way, but we do it. I suppose before the year ends we'll even see some blue heron wading back. Their struggle has lasted for eleven thousand years. Ours is just beginning.'
James A. Michener, Chesapeake, (New York: Random House, 1978), 851.
I just finished Michener's book on the historical fictional account of the families that made the Chesapeake Bay. It was very well written and had tremendous research on each and every page. I was very happy with it. It really made me think about the impact families and generations can have on the shaping of an area and/or community. It is so easy to lament how ugly, twisted, and deplorable America has become. Everywhere a person looks there is evidence that we as a people have gone to hell. The future of our once great nation has become so cloudy that many are without hope moving forward. And its not just the gruesome acts of murder, rape, and the crushing blow delivered to the masses by the corporate capitalists. It is the slow yet steady decline of any resemblance of accountability, responsibility, and true & honest hard work and effort.

Yet the reading of the book reminded me of the fact that hope remains in people choosing to make and leave and imprint upon a culture and society. Every single day of work, I get to face 120+ seventh graders with impressionable minds and attitudes. I teach them geography, history, and factoids about the social fabric of America. But even more than that, I get the opportunity to care for them, teach them values, and instruct them on the methods of hard work and responsibility. With some it feels like a daily battle. With others I see such bright hope for the future of our nation. With all, I feel like I get the opportunity to truly make a difference in life. A or F - I get them with me for 52 minutes a day, five days a week. And like the characters of Michener's novel, I will undoubtedly leave some type of mark. My hope is that my time is well spent, and that the change I get the opporunity to enact goes in on some level.

There is and always will be hope. As Michener pointed out, often times our half-assed ways seem to knock hope out the window. But we are survivors, and if we choose wisely - we can leave a history of the positive change we made in America.