Thursday, May 07, 2015

Better Listening--Letter #50

Dear Governor Ducey,
The other day, someone asked me what I would say to you if I were actually able to talk to you. It took me a minute to think of what but I finally said, I don't think I'd say much. I think I'd just listen. I'd ask you, do you really not believe that everyone who wants an education should be able to afford one? Don't you think the state has some interest in investing in its people's education? Don't you think education makes a city, a state, a country, better. You believe in "education" I think. Your kids went to college. You went to college. There was no "governor's" class right? But still, you took a variety of classes, probably beginning with general education, the foundation of a liberal arts education. And then you must have gotten some graduate degree for further training that led you to be able to transition from a business guy to a governor guy--because, I'm sure you are getting the feeling that although everything "seems" like it runs like a business, not everything does run like a business. Heck, half the businesses don't run like businesses. But it seems that "liberal arts" education allowed you to transition and move around and move up, which seems like something education should do so you can make your life better and what you think a governor who has great hope for making its citizens' lives better would do. So I would ask you, and I would listen to you answer why you don't think education is good for everyone, or why the state isn't completely, 100% invested in educating its people? I am interested. I admit I am locked in an ideology. I believe in education for everyone, all the time. I cannot see seeing from another point of view but I would listen to you and try to understand why some people should get to go to college and others should not.

The other day, I was running around my neighborhood. A recycling truck was going my exact same pace. As we both approached one house, the recycling bin had tipped over. I went to help the recycling man stuff the recyclables back into the bin.
"You don't have to do that," he said.
"Well, neither do you," I argued, assuming that technically, if the recyclables are not in a bin, he doesn't need to pick them up by hand.
We happened to be in front of one of those little libraries that people put in their yards, like mailboxes or bird houses--invitations to bring the public into your private territory. I walked over, talking mostly to myself, "The Life of Pi. That's a good one."
The recycling man, setting the bin closer to the curb, said, "I like that one too."
"You liked it?"
"Yeah. It was good. Not my favorite, but up there."
"What's your favorite?"
"The Things They Carried."
"I teach that book all the time," I said.
"Where do you teach?"
"NAU. I teach creative writing."
"I've always wanted to take a writing class."
"Well, you should come take one," I told him.
"I always wanted to go back to school, " he said.
"You should!" I said. I'm overly enthusiastic sometimes.

What good would it do for the recycling man to finish his BA? He has a good job. Secure. Maybe interesting--to see what people recycle (by the way, these people had put wine bottles (J. Lohr Cab) in their recyclables. I freaked out because glass can't go with regular recyclables but the recycling man shrugged his shoulders. He has a broader perspective). But maybe he doesn't want to always be a recycling man. Maybe he wants to move up the recycling ladder. Or maybe he would like to write in his spare time. Maybe in writing in his spare time, he'll write a great novel about the man who tried to recycle his wife. Or the mystery of the more-tin-foil-than-one-could-reasonably-use-discovered-in-the-recyling-bin. Or a nonfiction book about J. Lohr cab and how its sustained a number of lives in our community. Maybe he'll sell it to Hollywood. Maybe he'll pay taxes on the sale. Maybe the sale of that movie will pay for 6 other recycling men and women to go to college.  Or maybe he won't write anything or sell anything. Maybe he'll write in his spare time and continue to pick up recycling. Maybe he won't write. Maybe, when he swings by, he'll pull a book out of the Little Library that he read in school and read it again on his way home. Maybe this will make his life a better. Maybe better is what life is supposed to get. How a state isn't invested in that, I don't get, but I'm asking. I promise I will listen.

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