As people do around this time of year, I’ve been thinking about the coming year, what I want to work on, what’s on the schedule, what I hope for, and so on. I like the idea of a theme rather than resolutions, and as I was thinking over possible themes, one popped into my head. I wanted to resist it, to consider other themes, to find one I really liked and wanted to work with, but this one wouldn’t go away. I don’t especially care for this one, but it’s insisting that it is my theme for the year, will-I nill-I:
There are changes I hope for (selling the house that is wrong for us and moving to something that suits us better), and changes I fear, both specifically (friends retiring and no longer being part of my campus life) and more generally (political changes for the worse). Who knows what else may come, either in the train of known changes, according to the Law of Unintended Consequences, or just as part of life. I suppose it is some help to have notice, from my unconscious or the zeitgeist, that change will be coming. Maybe I can surf that wave rather than being pulled down by it.
And it has begun already. Not only did I spend the New Year in a place new to me, but this morning I placed a telephone call to my House representative, about the changes to rules proposed for the 2017 session. My representative is as blue as they come, so at first I thought (as I have been thinking), “Why bother?” and then I decided that I could at least express my enthusiastic support for his vote against weakening ethics oversight. I spoke to a human being, and said my piece. I hate telephone calls, but more will be necessary in the years to come, and practice will no doubt make them easier. I can’t remember the last time I contacted any elected official, and I am certain that the last time I did, it was in writing rather than by phone. But the vote is supposed to happen today, so I phoned.
Yay? And yet I so much wish that this were not necessary. As I move into this strange new world created by 11/9, I want to remember that my core values, the ideas that really matter to me, have to do with learning, education, the life of the mind. Yes, one needs certain conditions in order to have those things, and one must act to create those conditions. At the same time, strength of various kinds—personal, cultural, political—comes out of a focus on education, on thoughtfulness, on informed communication. I will continue to stand for these ideals, whatever changes come to pass.