A Wonderful Place to Start
The Road Goes Ever On and On…
An Important Question
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) posited this important question: “Is man, as in his nature till now, prepared to assume dominion over the whole earth?” Heidegger’s intensity is unmistakable – perhaps even off putting – but what an important idea. Not, to be clear, that any individual will have (or should have) dominion over the earth: but can you be worthy of such a position? Can we (can that ever elusive ‘we’ even be found at this point) be worthy of ascending in such a manner? What would that look like and why does it mater?
Too Big a Question…So It Goes
Wouldn’t it be nice if we can simply lift a magic hammer or pull a sword from a stone to confirm our worthiness? That’s not how it goes, but becoming people of character…becoming and training ourselves to be what Philip Zimbardo calls “heroes in waiting” may be one of the most important ideas to consider.
In the movie Lincoln the 16th President extolls his inner circle to garner the final votes needed to pass the 13th Amendment. He declares, “The fate of human dignity is in our hands!” I’m a history teacher. The fate of human dignity will likely never be in my hands. My part in the river of time is not that grand. Such is the case for most people. That, however, is what we call a macro-story – where thousands to millions of lives are in the hands of one or a few. There are also micro-stories – those small stories where an individual’s personal dignity or emotional stability will be in your hands. Will you be ready for that moment? That’s an important part of education and learning. That’s one of the underlying purposes and glories of human interaction; to be of service when another is in emotional, psychological, spiritual, or physical distress and you are equipped to aid him or her. When you do that you become a hero. I hope everyone reading these words shines brightly in those heroic moments.
…Now Far Ahead the Road Has Gone, and I Must Follow it if I can
Follow it if I can. If I can. That’s the whole ballgame. Do you have what it takes to follow the road. Hidden in that phrase, however, is an important nugget of wisdom. You can fall and stumble on the road. You can suffer defeats and have short comings revealed. After all, it doesn’t say “follow the road perfectly”! When the hardships on the road of trials knock yo down, get up and keep following the road…or blaze a new path if necessary. So many stories in P3 focus on the necessity of getting up. Alfred asking Bruce Wayne,“Why do we fall?” The answer, “To learn to get back up.” Rocky Balboa’s famous “It ain’t how hard you hit” speech or Jackie Robinson “living the sermon”in 42. The final word on this topic, perhaps fittingly, goes to the iconic Morgan Freeman speaking in Shawshank Redemption. Simply put, “Get busy living, or get busy dying. Damn Right.”
Back to Today’s Purpose
Thankfully, this is not that moment. You aren’t here because you have fallen on the road and need inspiration to rise. No, this is a moment to say goodbye and to wish you well.
This is a time to say thank you. As my students know – even those who had their time with me interrupted by a pandemic – my classroom is a place for discussion and dialogue; and I will miss out conversations.
This will be our final “conversation.” So goodbye and farewell. Go find your place in the field. In the circle of life. Things won’t always be easy, but just keep swimming with the knowledge a gray haired wizard roots for you from the Shire. Perhaps a token has been granted to you that maybe…just maybe…will help you earn the right to make your mark.