My blog title, which comes from an Edie Brickell song, has turned out to reflect my relationship with my blog in a far deeper way than I realized. Subconscious rules!
The full line from the song is "Shove me in the shallow water before I get to deep." Every once in a while I feel compelled to write about more serious topics that I've been thinking about - you know, there's a lot going on in the world these days! - but when I do, I feel a bit uncomfortable and can't wait to get back into shallow water.
I haven't been blogging a lot lately because I've spent too much time wallowing in serious things, to the point of not being very healthy (read: must stop paying attention to comments people make in response to newspaper articles online, especially local papers). I'm sure I'll lighten up now that spring is here!
In the meantime . . .
I'm so frustrated with the divisive for-or-against, either-or spin so much of our media treats us to. Case in point: the ridiculous coverage of the tea parties by both the left and the right. People have legitimate concerns and a constitutionally guaranteed right to express those concerns. And they get laughed at relentlessly? Like that's going to move us forward? On the other hand, tea party organizers need to own the fact that while their tea parties turned out many thoughtful people who wanted to voice their concerns about government spending, they also turned out many people who just wanted to hate on Obama. Really, really hate.
Honestly, I think the way we reduce the complexity of the world to meaningless oversimplifications ("no matter what Obama does it's wrong and even if it isn't wrong we're going to spin it to make it look wrong" - and feel free to substitute Bush in that statement this time last year) is so counterproductive. It does not remotely resemble the healthy, productive debate we need to actually dig ourselves out of all of the holes we are in.
People keep shouting out their opinions (yes, I really must stop reading online comments) without having the full picture. Though in their defense, it's not so easy to get the full picture with all of the spin going on!
In honor of earth day, here's another example of an oversimplified, politically charged and over spun issue: oil. I think we citizens are actually all pretty much in agreement that we want the U.S. to be energy independent. Where we differ is how to get there, and, with very few exceptions, we all have oversimplified ideas about that. How many of us really understand the energy economy? Especially in relation to the free market economy that we also universally value (to varying regulatory degrees)? Contrast, for example, cries for new drilling with the market reality that people are losing jobs because oil companies have been cutting back existing operations (between August and February, rig count in Utah dropped 50%!).
My contribution to combatting all of the sound bite ideology these past months has been made in the classroom. I teach writing. Sure we talk about comma placement, but more importantly we talk about critical thinking. Even if we know everything about sentence construction and spelling, we can't be good writers if we don't have anything to say (a result of superficial thinking). My mantra in class is to dig deeper, to work on understanding the complexity of issues before crafting theses.
Today it paid off. My students each spent a few minutes in class today sharing something interesting they discovered in their research process for their final paper.
The very last student shared this (in so many words): "Starting out I had very strong opinions about gun control. But I realized that I couldn't actually carry on a discussion about it because I really didn't know anything. Through my research I educated myself on the topic. And I realized that if more people were educated on the topic we wouldn't have people reacting so dramatically to unsubstantiated hearsay. We might even be able to come up with solutions that work."
Can't think of a better message as I send my students on their way.