So, I’ve done a bit of reading, and a bit of thinking, and taken a nice shower, and cleared my head a bit. And I’ve got two somewhat contradictory things to say now.
The first is that I now understand, viscerally, how my American Government professor, Wayne Parent, felt that morning in November 1984 when he walked back into the classroom and said, simply, “I don’t want to talk about it.” And then proceeded to go on with his originally scheduled lecture.
The other, though, is that — and I sincerely hope this isn’t just the desperately rationalizing part of my brain, trying to find ANY POSSIBLE GOOD THING that can be taken from all of this — I now have an even deeper sense of how much what I do (what so many of us do) matters. Early glances at the exit polls (and yes, I do recognize the irony involved in basing any conclusions on the exit polls, today of all days) suggest that educated voters largely went for Kerry, and voters with lesser educational backgrounds largely went for Bush. Add to this the data released over the course of the year about the relationship between educational background, FOX News viewership, and radical misunderstandings of issues on both the national and international levels, and you can begin to piece together a sense of the desperate need for decent education in this country — and especially for improved media literacy.
The results of this election — which now appears to be over, and much sooner than I expected it to be — don’t exactly give me hope, but they do give me purpose.
What I need to ponder is ways to pass that purpose on to my students, students who have been genuinely politically committed during this election, who cannot allow themselves to fall into despair over this result. I need to pass on to them the commitment not simply to their own educations, but to educating others. I need to impress upon them — and I begin to believe this, at a deep level — that the most important thing a media studies student can do is to pass their knowledge on, by teaching.
I’d love, as my knee-jerk response from this morning suggested, nothing more than just to escape the whole deal. Pull up stakes and move to Canada. Hell, Paris.
But the battle’s here. And I’m not running away from this fight.