Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Where have all the Heroes Gone?

This question is asked every decade - it was probably asked back when the cave-mamas were pissed off with the bad example the cavemen were setting for the children by going out at all hours and getting impaled on mammoth horns and such. But it is an especially poignant question for a high school teacher of civics and US government. Tomorrow I will face 120 soon-to-be-voting seniors who will be in my class to learn about how this country works. I know I've already written about this over the summer, but as it becomes more and more real, I find I'm still at a loss as to how to approach this year's lessons. Our government is broken. Our military is broken. Our social services are broken. Our economy is fast breaking. My greatest task this year won't be teaching how the government is supposed to work, but imbuing my students with a DESIRE to PARTICIPATE. I will have to have more hope than I ever have to overcome the cynicism that today's students come already full of.

And I do have hope. I believe in that little 4,000 word Constitution more than any other document - it is simple and to the point. It limits government's power and reminds government of the rights of people. Its strength is in its simplicity. But it is being abused over and over again.

So as I sat through each day's news last week, my frustration built and built.

- the resignation of an attorney general that has completely corrupted the justice department and led the way into turning us into an internationally despised country that tortures and imprisons without rights. Will his resignation now shield him from the prosecution he deserves?

- The highest ever monthly casualty rates in Iraq since we have been here. But the President continues to say we are "winning" - what the hell does that mean anymore?

- ANOTHER elected official caught in a predatory crime. Not to mention the hypocrisy of the republican party over the Sen. Craig issue - but just the fact that so many of these guys are soooo awful in their hypocrisy. And the dems aren't immune - what's been done about Rep. Jefferson's $90,000 cash in his freezer?

On Saturday, as the news wrapped up my frustration hit its boiling point and I uttered with a minor screechy groan, "they're all such LOSERS!!!!"

And my little 5 year old looked up from his shark drawings and said, "Who are the winners, Mommy?"

And I looked at him. And I looked down at the floor. And I said "I don't know."

I don't know. But I better come up with something quick - because I want my students to be winners, and I need something to hold up to them as a model.

But I don't know.

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