Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 12:16:26 -0400 (EDT)
It was foggy this morning in London proportions. It was eerie. Nothing had definition. I couldn't see more than a block ahead of me. Each lamp post was a protecting lighthouse. I suppose it was appropriate weather for this morning since most of the country and many throughout the world have been covered in a hazy shroud by the tragic events in the waters off Martha's Vineyard.
Yet, as I took each step my own inner haze began to dissipate until I could see very clearly. I wasn't expecting to share any thoughts this morning, but I have been sent into the depths of my spirit as JKF, Jr's plane plunged into the depths of the ocean.
You see, I am a courtier of Camelot. I didn't enter "into service" until mid-1963 at the age of 22, but when I did it was like I was suddenly breathing freshly oxygenated air and a refreshing wind was at my face.
Now, I am not one of those who threw himself prostrate before the feet of JFK as if he were some pharohic god-king; nor do I worship the ground that a Kennedy walks on. JFK and many members of the family lived a life that was uneven, a life that was flawed, a life that was human. Don't we all. No, what swept me up and drew me--and still does--was an ideal that was greater than the man, greater than me. It was a call that I could make a difference, that ordinary me could do extraordinaty things, that I...WAS...IMPORTANT and do something of importance.
That call took me into the backwoods of North Carolina to register African-American voters. I only regret that it didn't last. I didn't then have the courage not to retreat in fear into my books and hide in the iiner bowels of the graduate library after a klansman stuck his loaded shotgun hard into my stomach as I protested a klan rally in Durham. An unexpected blind date and marriage sidetracked my intentions of entering the Peace Corps.
But, it was because of that ideal that I took up the banner once again, this time with a fearlessness, and was among those who struggled to integrate Valdsota State College beyond tokenism and struggle to combat racism; it was because of that ideal that I was a campus protester of the Vietnam War; it was because of that ideal that I require the triads in my classes be racially and gender mixed as I struggle in my small way to combat any & all prejudice, and foster mutual respect; it is because of that ideal that I believe in the unique potential of each and every student, that each student is an important human being and can do important things, that in each student is a "little story" in which exists a piercing truth, and that I refuse to be a callous academic weeder.
When I hesitate, when I am tired and forelornly ask myself if it's all worth it, when I am thrown out of the loop, when the system seems so vast that it's beyond my control to change anything, when everything seems so tangled like a gordian knot, when I think that what I am doing is not earthshaking, when I think that what I am doing will not have any results I hear those encouraging words, "You can make a difference." I remember that I am important because I believe I am important. And I go on struggling to be a firm and loud voice rather than a hollow and faint echo.
Understand that this is not a eulogy to anyone. This is not a eulogy, period. I am not talking about an age gone by. As I age, as I approach my third score, that age, that calling, that belief, is a seminal, ageless part of me. My body may not be what it was even if I do power walk six pre-dawm miles every other day, but my spirit remains trim and vibrant. The flame burns brighter, the energy is more driving, the belief stronger, the comittment deeper than it had been in my youth. I am even be more youthful now than I was in my youth. My true testimony is my life, my teaching, my continual unswerving belief and faith that I can make a difference, my constant efforts to make a difference, and my uncontested knowledge that I do.
Idealistic you say? Well, maybe. But, remember reality is idealism come true.
My true testimony to the virtues of Camelot is my life, my teaching, my continual unswerving belief and faith that I can make a difference, my constant efforts to make a difference, and my uncontested knowledge that I do.
One last word. The lasting impact on me of Camelot is not the life of a man, the utterance of a few noble words, the presence of a family, the passing culture of a decade or two.
No, the lasting impact is a view of myself.
I think it was Camus who once said something to the effect that there is a lot that is denigrationg in people, but there is a lot more that is noble. I believe that and I believe I can prove that.
Just a thought this fog-shrouded morning.
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier firstname.lastname@example.org Department of History http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/louis.html Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA 31698 /~\ /\ /\ 912-333-5947 /^\ / \ / /~ \ /~\__/\ / \__/ \/ / /\ /~ \ /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" -\____