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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dozing Off in the Academy

In my dreams I am a poet who travels the world armed with inspiring words that eradicate suffering and induce bliss.

In my waking life I have a job where I am expected to act serious, do serious things and take myself and my co-workers seriously. More and more I find it hard to remember who I really am. It seems I have lost track of that silly justice-loving artsy woman I used to be. I waste countless hours ironing shirts, gelling my hair, collecting toll money, buying gas, grading papers, sitting in meetings, filling out forms, and consulting calendars. Why?

Will my students go out in the world and do amazing things? And if they don't does my day job matter? Does the time I do in the "Academy" mean anything in the larger scheme of things? Or is it just a "day job" -a way to pay the bills while I write the next great American poem? A respectful way to make a living if not to live?

When I was a student (13 years of my life, not counting k-12) I imagined that becoming a professor would allow me entry into a wonderful intellectual community, a Beloved Community full of people with high ideals and brains to match them. Nobody told me the truth about the Academy.

Dr. King’s "Beloved Community"
was "a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood... international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict." (King Center literature)

Is there some way to create such a community? I would like to think so, even if the Academy might be unable to host such a place. Or maybe King's ideas are too old and we need to come up with new ones? After all, King was a very serious fellow. How do we inject joy into the equation? I think we need a community for people like me. Maybe we should call it the Blissful Community.

In the Blissful Community beauty, joy, wisdom, and love will be the goal of all activities. Dialogue and Creative Productions will be the vehicle and silliness and foolishness will be required. Hmmmm. Will have to work on this idea......