Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On-time to count

Today I went home for lunch. As I was zooming back to school through busy Green Bay streets I approached an intersection where the light was red.  I merged left to be the first car in the left turn lane thinking, "I hope I am on-time to count," meaning that I hope my car hit the sensor before the light was already in the process to turn green for the other cars going straight. I promptly got the green arrow. Whew.

That phrase stuck with me in my comtemplative drive back to school (which one of the reasons I go home on occasion during lunch - the other reasons are: to escape the work place, drink soda out of a glass, or eat a reasonably healthy lunch that I didn't make time to pack).  There are so many times when we simply hope that we are on-time to count, or soon enough to make a difference. I made it back to school right on time.

For those who follow the political sphere (and some who are engulfed in it) are surely aware of the political embroiling of teachers in the state of Wisconsin. Currently anyone who benefits from a state retirement plan or who is a public-sector unionized employee may be subject to our newly elected governor's "Budget Repair Bill" in which not only will certain benefits (like health insurance and retirement) or wages be cut, but also the right to collectively bargain for unions of public employees would disappear. For teachers this means planning time, lunch (half) hour time, and responsibilities that fall outside the hours of the school day. This bill doesn't just affect teachers, but police officers, highway patrol, custodians, public radio, transportation, administrative buildings, etc., including the person cleaning the governor's office.  It is as if the solitary rug the working class stands on were trying to be legally pulled out from under us. Also, if unions for public employees are hurt in this bill, it weakens the pull and the voice of private unions as well, like those factory workers, plumbers, electricians, pipefitters, etc. Did I leave anyone out?

So often we do not look out for the rights of others until it affects us close to home, and then we care. Those who voted for Walker in the last election may have supported his idea of balancing the budget, but at what cost? This attack on unions is an attempt to usurp the voice of the working class people so that in the future we might be powerless to protest when our working-conditions are lowered to the point that no educated person will want to serve the public sector. As Elie Wiesel said, "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." However, I do not believe that in a democracy we are powerless to protest. Therefore I will be contacting my elected officials after school, hoping I am on-time to count.

Many people who work in service positions deal with this struggle with timing. Did the emergency room physician act on-time make a difference with the patient who was bleeding from trauma? Did the teacher intervene with the struggling student on-time for him to reach proficient standards before the end of the grading period? Did the pizza delivery man get there before the 30 minutes were up? As part of my professional development I am trying to learn not to procrastinate, but be proactive. Perhaps I should have campaigned more in the political season. I know I should spend more time planning, or better yet the same amount of time but in a more prioritized fashion. I struggle with this, but I am the only person who can correct my haphazard priorities. My problem is I feel that sometimes EVERYTHING is important. Prioritizing is a struggle for me. I hope that no one can ever accuse me of indifference.

One fault I find in the general American political climate is indifference. We have it good here (all of us for the most part) and thus do not see suffering like in other countries.  Our standard of living is the warm incubator of eggies of indifference. As Elie Wiesel also said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.” I hope that when it comes to the well-being of others I will never be indifferent. I hope the same for my loved-ones, because indifference means a life devoid of passion and purpose.

I hope that today you are on-time to count. Whether it be improving your health through diet and exercise habits, going to bed earlier, balancing your checkbook, finishing homework, calling your representatives, protesting on the street, or telling someone you love them, it all matters, it is never too late to count.

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