Wednesday, November 3, 2010

who v. how many?

Dear sister,

(This post will be interspersed with outtakes from SuperTiger brother’s senior photo shoot this past weekend, even though you’ve probably seen them all on facebook. Oh, and they have nothing to do with the content of this post. Not saying anything, just sayin’ …)

Election confession: I didn’t vote. I know, I know. When I turned 18, SuperTiger Brother wrote me a birthday card that just said, “Happy Birthday – don’t forget to register to vote!” And I did, that year. And then I’ve voted shamefully few times since then … it bothers me every time. But when you move every 9 months or so, as I seem to do these days, it’s hard to remember to change your voter registration each time … along with your license, vehicle registration, insurance garaging, cell phone, bank, and credit card addresses, and on on, and so on …

I think our country’s leaders, the ones who want us to vote, are making the same mistake I often make in teaching. They’re asking “who” instead of “how many.” Try it some time with a group of teens: ask them “who has the answer to #4?” and you’ll get the few, the proud, the courageous raising their hands. The others, the ones who know but don’t care, can’t be bothered.

For some reason, asking “how many have the answer?” generates a much larger response. Maybe because it somehow makes you feel that the response is obligatory, instead of optional, since the question is looking for a head count and not a volunteer. Or maybe because they’re not used to hearing that question and it wakes them up. Who knows. Either way, sometimes I think our voting system might want to try asking "how many" sometime, instead of the usual "who?"

Anyway. I was thinking about this, and I was watching the “Rally to Restore Sanity” (since working 7 days a week makes it hard to travel anywhere these days …). I’ve been to two different marches in Washington D.C., both to protest the war, and both times I was struck by the same impression that the point of the rally was not actually to make a statement, or send a message, or even to change anyone’s mind. The point of the march was simply to march – and the point of the rally, to rally. In other words, what was great about the experience was the feeling of community, of being surrounded by like-minded strangers coming together from across the country, of solidarity and unity and vocal, visual similar points of view. A call to answer the question "how many" instead of merely "who."

Thinking of rallys, and of solidarity, and of the fact that I owed you a post, I was watching the rally with a notepad at my side, jotting down my thoughts on a minute-by minute-basis so I could share them with you later. It started out like this:
11:55 – how do I get the TV to turn on?
11:56 -- (ring, ring) why doesn’t SuperTiger brother ever answer his phone?
12:02 – oh, there we go.
12:03 – are they having mic problems? why is every one running around behind the drum set?
12:14 – Did John Legend just take his cell phone out of his pocket as he sat down to sing?
12:16 – (ring, ring) Hi SuperTiger brother. No, I just wanted to know how to turn the television on. No, I got it. No … well, yes, I am related to StrongDad.
12:17 – is my cell phone ringing again?
12:18 – oh, no, that’s part of the song. that’s … weird.
12:44 – Hi, Bode. Oh – ok, okay, okay .. Ok, good dog. Lie down. No – no, lie down. Good boy..
12:58 – They’ve managed to make our national anthem sound amazingly like a contemporary Christmas carol.
1:05 – Huh, I really wish I could talk to Ella right now. I mean … oh, wait.
1:07 – (ring ring) Hi Ella!
And yes, that was the point at which I realized I could just call and talk to you. Which means this is the end of the blog post, because you know what happened from there.
your sister

No comments:

Post a Comment