Saturday, July 5, 2008

Life with no parachute but plenty of ideals

I ran into my friend Margo Fox on Broadway yesterday as I held an armful of books newly borrowed from the library. She is a gifted writer but one of the strongest threads binding our lives is the fact that she grew up on the same street, just a few doors down from my parent's house in a Long Island college town.

She noted it was remarkable that our parent's raised us to have so little practical preparation for life outside of academia. Yes, I said, I wasn't given driving lessons, shown how to balance a checkbook, taught how to give a good interview, or many other general life skills. But I left home knowing how to write a bibliography and do research in a library as well as our encyclopedia. I also was experienced in sit-ins against the Shoreham nuclear plant and taking trips to protest the Vietnam War in Washington DC...

The New York Times just had an article about the masses of liberal professors that are now retiring and conjectured the changes as a new generation takes over teaching in our universities. I suspect the tide mark of "political correctness" will be replaced by a more conservative, indeed practical agenda. I only hope that the idealism that makes people take on impossible impractical goals won't be squashed by too much steely-eyed risk assessment. It takes poets and fools to change the world too.

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