The sharpest knife in the drawer, I ain’t. At least that’s what I’ve always assumed, for I am nothing if not modest. I know a few things, most of which I’ll get around to sharing here on my meager little e-soapbox, but the world must be full of folks way smarter than I, right? Maybe not full – there are a lot of Georges out there, afterall – but at least well populated. Apparently I’ve been too optimistic. When I was in high school I liked to say that 99% of the world’s population consisted of complete idiots, a statistic I based on the fact that I was a cynical little prick. But was I right all along? Dear God, if I’m one of the smart ones, make me smarter.
Being about eight years older than the usual college freshman gives me certain advantages, mostly in perspective. I feel like I want to be in school, that I’m there by choice, because I want to be a better person and have a better life. I want to actually come out of this experience smarter than when I went in, not cling steadfastly to my pre-existing ignorance. Judging by my fellow students at HCC, I’m way in the minority on this one. I read and hear all the time about the dumbing-down of modern society, teenagers and young adults who can’t find this or that country on a map, or name more than one or two founding fathers, or know what length of time “four score and seven years” is, but to see it up close is actually quite something. Last week in American Government, Professor Ward asked one of the girls who sits at the table behind me to name a few of the freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. After some time and a lot of coaching from the professor, she mumbled out something about freedom of speech. I should mention that she had her textbook in front of her, opened to a copy of the Bill of Rights at the time.
It’s one of those “thank God” moments, not for her but for me. Thank God I have the family I have. Thank God I have the friends I have. Thank God I made the choices I made. I might not be much – I’ll never publish a revolutionary scientific paper, or bring peace to the Middle East, or walk on Mars – but at least I know what’s in the fucking Bill of Rights, for Christ’s sake. People astonish me. I’m optimistic, I know, but people astonish me.
Speaking of government class, today before the class proper began, James and Darren (who sits right across the aisle from me) had an interesting discussion that started with James asking Darren where he was on the liberal/conservative scale, then moved onto a debate about gay marriage, then flowed seamlessly into a discussion on the place, if any, of faith in public policy. It was really quite something, and I was disappointed when Darren pretty much just rolled over and died in the face of James’s arguments. I agreed with James (I’m less philosophical in my thinking than he is, and would have definitely used the word “horseshit” at least once in refuting Darren), but didn’t jump in, since he had it handled. It’s a shame Darren didn’t put up more of a fight.