Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tis a good day

Today was a Melbourne-esque days and those days are extremely far and few between these days. It started with sleeping at 7am. Although this time, it wasn't because I had a paper due. More like I had 2 munchkins who were sick and whiny through the night and since I was the one who gave them the cold, I felt that I should be the one to stay up with them.

Then there was the waking up 2 hours later to traffic. Well, it used to be the trams rumbling by or the restaurant in front's bins of tin cans and bottles being emptied. Today it was the sound of the bus stopping at the bus stop outside our window. That came with the cursory moment of "Oh crap, am I supposed to be at work/school/somewhere?" before sinking back into the covers and savouring the fact that it was light out and I was still in bed.

When my brain started to chug along, I remembered there was television to be watched. It was indeed election day in the US and we've been nauseous, paranoid and totally distrusting the Americans to get their heads out of their bums and do the right thing. To say it was exhilarating was an understatement. it was electrifying and I knew as I was watching it, that history was unfolding before my eyes. Packrat and I were like mini-pundits, refreshing charts online to see the numbers inch up from McCain up by 8 votes to Obama overtaking him and leaving him in the dust. I hated CNN though. Their projected wins made me feel like I was going to get my hopes up based on what were basically guesses. So even when they projected a win with a big fat tick by Obama's name, I was scant to believe it until NY Times confirmed the number of electoral votes had surpassed the magical 270. That's when the dance of joy occurred and the day began to look extremely bright and cheery. All this happened without us leaving the confines of our bedroom and for those glorious hours, I plain ignored the fact that I had two kids whom I should probably have looked in on. But for those hours, we were just us, enjoying something non-kid related, relishing in something had impacted more than just us and caring about something bigger than we were.

Both Packrat and I shared the same sentiment as we slowly got dressed to re-enter our own reality. That this was exciting. That this was like Melbourne. Where we had time to be citizens of the world and to be our own people. We realise that as our children grow older, it's going to be harder for us to do this because these things that we enjoy doing, these somewhat intellectual idealistic pursuits are for us, for our own growth as people and it disregards reality and the roles we play in that reality. I think perhaps, that's why also, that much as we hate some aspects of our profession and every year, I swear blind that I need to leave it, I end up going back to it the following year. Because in our profession, it is somewhat expected of us to still pursue these aspirations and to be in the know about all these things. And like I used to say, it gives us the soapbox to actually imperiously demand that others be like that and care in the same way.

I often categorically claim that my successes in teaching are not the number of distinctions my students get for the subject but that they realise that it is part of their responsibility as people to actually care about things that go beyond them and their very limited blindered worlds. It's a hard battle and I often get angry when I have to fight uphill against the pragmatics of society to get the message across. This part, is un-Melbourne-esque, though I think the roots of my professional ethos come from there. So when I felt the intense need to talk to people or students about it and I couldn't because they're all in the throes of exams, I felt a bit lost. Similarly, when I discovered this, I felt I needed to show it to someone, again, I couldn't because much as I want my 18 year olds to care about the world and ideals, I do need to balance that with the fact that exams ARE important.

I think we're still reveling in it, that not all Americans are the stereotypical dumb American although I did hear of an American in Singapore who forlornly declared that now America had elected a man who was unGodly and would lead them straight to hell. I'm sure he thinks Obama's the Devil Incarnate and is Muslim as well, as one of my opinionated students readily declares to anyone who might listen. Thankfully, my soapbox is larger than his.

Added on 6 Nov
Now that the American press has had a bit more time to digest what has happened, it is indeed heartening to see in the Op-Eds and editorials messages of hope and support for POTUS elect. It really does feel like the Americans see themselves slowly waking from the dark, dismal stupor that has been the last 8 years.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 19:11

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