Everyone the past few months has become an expert. I didn’t quite know it, but Donald Trump has done this brilliant thing where he brings out the brilliance in everyone around me.
I have this horrible eye infection, a corneal ulcer and infected membranes in my eyelids, that mostly means if I focus on anything for too long with my eyes they feel strained really bad and I get these bad pressure headaches. It also means if I don’t focus really hard on something everything looks really blurry.
I’ve read a lot about what everyone things the cure to saving this country is – from being a good person, to protesting, to creating art… everyone has some special opinion about how to save the world.
I don’t have a cure to treat the world. I can barely treat my eye, I definitely can’t treat an infected societal consciousness.
Despite spending the past week in a dark room with intervals of work and rest I have noticed something (other than their pontificating which is annoying) they don’t know much.
There once was a time where I would have credited my education for giving me the foundation of the person I am today. Thanked my professors for helping me craft arguments that nobody reads. Thought that my degree was a badge of honor proving I was a good, educated person worthy of being listened to.
But, I do not.
My education did not teach me to see beyond the surface of the humanity – the most infected thing in our society.
Reading did, but college didn’t make me a reader. An academic can tell you what an artists means, but you’ll know what it means when you read it.
It told me to follow directions, but how do you follow directions to a stranger who says, “I’m fine, thank you.” but doesn’t look fine? My parents taught me to discern when to press further and when to let it be.
My education didn’t give me the right statistics or argumentative essay to recite when a friend told me that they were depressed.
My degree didn’t have the right algebraic equation to tell me how to tell the crying homeless man how to increase his profits from petty change.
My education did give me any answers to some questions, but a more complex way of arguing simple matters to impress simple people with complex vocabulary. The more we talk the more we think we’re doing work.
My education did not tell me how to observe. I was always an observer. It taught me how to get credit for it, sure, but it didn’t teach me to see the world outside the way they wanted me to.
My education taught me that from as early as its conception history would be cruel to the weak and poor, but gave me resources to ensure I wasn’t one of those people – not how to help them.
My education didn’t make me a better person, it made me better versed in British Literature from 1800-1910.
My education didn’t make me read more, it just told me what to read.
My education didn’t teach me to say please and thank you, but rather “Furthermore” and “I conclude.”
It didn’t teach me to speak to people instead it taught me to speak at them.
Education didn’t teach me to respect others, it taught me to argue my point of view.
So when people are on these rants, with their statistics, their prolific insights I roll my eyes. You can talk a great talk, but can you walk the walk.
I do not mean to sound ungrateful, for I am eternally grateful for my educators and my time spent in university, but it is not the platform in which I base my political, societal, and artistic leanings. It taught me what is being taught. It didn’t teach me how to react.
I spent a lot of time learning how to pass tests, to recite what I’m supposed to say, to write essays in a formula that will get a pleasing grade – often omitting things becasue of fear that it went outside the guidelines.
I once got a B- with an almost apology from the professor, complimenting me for taking on a challenge, but not happy I didn’t fall in line. (“An ambitious topic that was much more challenging than many other students, but ultimately I couldn’t give an A as it didn’t meet all of the requirements.)
My degree hasn’t made me know any more than the average Joe, not about life, death, taxes – the things you can count on.
My education confused me. If anything I’ve spent years trying to unlearn the formulas, trying to become my own. I will take their foundation and I will decide what to do with it. I am lucky. I am not everyone. I will not speak on behalf of what everyone should do as our experiences are vastly different.
I am a white, middle-class raised, college educated woman. That is all I will know. But in reading I get a glimpse into the life of a poor black woman, or an immigrant farmer, or a geisha woman in Japan, etc.,
Literature made me a good person. Reading gave me the insight into the human condition in ways I’ll never experience firsthand.
Something my education did teach me , “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”
Don’t let your education make you believe you’re somehow more capable than anyone else to do great things. We all are.