I made a point of watching NBC’s 5:30pm broadcast last evening, and if I had been blinking my eyes, I would have missed the under-five-second spot covering massive anti-war demonstrations in 11 U.S. cities. The shot was of a demonstration in San Francisco and the script just said there were demonstrations in 11 cities, here’s San Francisco, they did a die-in, and buh-bye. It’s as if there’s no anti-war movement in the States, when hundreds of thousands of citizens protest, write letters, vote, write blogs. Who’s not listening? Mainstream media or congress or administration — all of the above? How do we continue to finance a war when the majority of the populace is against it? What kind of democracy do we live in? I think it might be a fake one, a pseudo-democracy. We tell ourselves we are free, we vote, we speak up, and all that counts. How does it count if those counting and those reporting the counting are looking elsewhere?
OK, so Cathie English, the teacher with whom I’m collaborating on the This-I-Believe-Nebraska-Alabama exchange, shared her essay on gDocs yesterday, and I totally love it. It’s gorgeous. And now I want to completely change the topic of my essay, and I don’t like my essay at all…and, and, and….this is a pretty typical writer’s response, I’m thinkin’, when the writer has not been working on her essay… Ahem. But I may change my topic. Maybe. We’ll see.
We’ve started the “This I Believe” section of my classes, and so far, I’m inspired by students’ readings of essays they’ve selected from the This I Believe website. Yesterday, folks handed in homework on which they listed three essays they selected: one from the contemporary essays group (these have been recorded on NPR), one from the 1950s group, and one from the essay database organized by topic.
Our discussion in class and a good deal of what students wrote on their homework seemed more substantive, more real. I don’t know how to explain what I mean by that. Maybe — it’s because we’re talking about things that matter.