Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Choice as I Move Forward

Reflecting on an experience such as the past weeks is difficult. There are so many emotions. The brain hasn’t had a chance to process and assimilate all the sensations.

Because of this experience, I wonder about my own prejudices. I find biases everywhere. I have thoughts about smokers and New Yorkers and men and hoodlums and ignorant people and fundamentalist religious followers and welfare abusers, and so many more. It’s hard to accept. I am certain people have these same thoughts about the various groups into which I find myself a member.

It saddens me because I felt like I was a person who looked at the individual, not the group stereotype. Yet, I have the same frailties of those who hate. Maybe the lesson we take from this exposure to the results of hatred is that we each carry prejudices within us. It is what we do during those moments when these biases rear their ugly heads that determines what kind of people we are.

Perhaps this is the lesson we teachers give to the children in our charge. Our choices have consequences. How do we make the choices? What do we do with the consequences of the choices we make? Ultimately, permit ourselves the time to consider and make a choice. I take from this experience that standing aside as a bystander is never the right choice. I must encourage my students to take a stand, to make a difference, and to change the world—no matter how small a scale that world might encompass.

This is the action I choose to take. It may be only a drop in this great big world, but I can’t wait to see how the ripples my drop makes will fan out and affect the ocean of our world.


DebiEm said...

Ilka, your commentary strikes home. From the stops and starts of my reflection piece, I kept coming back to the image of a pebble thrown into a pond. I thought of our actions as a rippling effect and realized that when I'm not entirely present, my actions may negatively affect my students by coming across as something other than I intended. I can talk the talk, but do I really walk the walk...always? I came to the same conclusion as you...I am human w/ all our frailties. And you're right, we must begin somewhere. To be present and make conscious choices is huge. There are innumerable consequences in our choices, and we must model for young people (and old people, too :-)) that we can make a difference.

Valerie said...

Ilka, you're exactly correct -- no one among us is prejudice-free. It's what we do about those prejudices that matter. Do we discriminate based on them, do we suppress these feelings, or do we acknowledge, question, and fight against them?


Mr. Maerke said...

I second what you have commented. What do we do with these prejudices? That is so self-condemning, but it, for me, also reveals that I have power to overcome.
Thanks for writing so well Ilka and Valeria.

Larry Neuburger said...

I love Frost's poem The Road Not Taken because to me, it is not only about the choices we make, but also about accepting the consequences of those choices. We can only gain experience by making choices and accepting the consequences, good or bad. Hopefully, reflecting on consequences helps us determine what choices to make in the future.

Just my two cents worth.

Ilka said...

Totally worth the two cents! It might be a nice idea to use the poem in class to accent this idea of mine. Thanks said...

Dear All,
I, too, am struck by Ilka's realization and your responses to it. I agree that most of us are not free from inherited hatreds, passed on by families, friends, the culture(s) we live in and so on. But it is heartening to know that we do not have to live our lives in their thrall. We can revise what we think and make choices to act in accordance with our best selves. It gratifies me to know that our summer seminar has played a role in bringing this to light.