I'm thinking today about the future.
It's graduation day. I hate them. I forgot that I hate them. They're never quite what I want them to be. I mean, I went, and we sang, and I cried, and it was poignant. But it was also like stay-awake-challenge 2011, and not only for me, when the speakers got up to say their pieces. Maybe it's because their speeches are all in some level of Japanese I don't really understand. But they were the ones who looked bored when the kids started singing badly, and when the class VP started to give an account of their memories, her voice broken by little sobs.
I had come to terms with the idea that it's not really for the graduates that we put them through all this crap. It's for us, the teachers and parents. It's so we can wallow in the weird feeling of imagining them taking flight, of how happy we are and how sad, that we maybe taught them something, that they needed us, that they don't anymore.
But for me, I love their faces as they march out into the swirling snow (yeah, snow) through the back doors of the gym. Tearstained and squared jaw, they go forward; they have no other choice. The future is there, and they'll go into it. They couldn't stay behind if they wanted to. Not that they want to.. some are glad to get out, and some are glad to go wherever they are going. Some are sad to be leaving, some are scared of where they're headed, or of not knowing where they're headed. And some are all of the above.
But scared or sad or happy or excited, we go, because for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction, and time is its only measure (that isTom Stoppard).
But something else. Before the graduates came into the gym, while I was wandering around trying to keep warm, I stopped and smiled and chatted and joked with the younger students. The first-years squabbled over who was number one, two, or three coolest. The second-years called me beautiful. Then during the ceremony, next year's student body president started crying during his speech, and continued to cry through the rest of the ceremony (I didn't know this til I saw him, red-eyed, at the end).
I remembered the phrase just a judo kid, and choked on it watching the irrepressible Minato deliver his ceremonial paper to the stage. He was never just anything. Now our new class president is just a table-tennis kid, but he has a good heart, and he's sharp, and he has a steady voice. And he cried through the whole ceremony!
At the risk of sounding like a horrible person, I like working with kids whom I've seen cry. I actually have more respect for the kids I've seen moved that much, because it means they give a shit. I like kids who give a shit. The future is brighter for them.
I've been thinking lately about the future, about education and how we're all in this together. About how we need kids to give a shit, and to learn about things, even if they don't think they want to, because the future needs better people. I hear about how this country has a growing population and that one has a shrinking one, but I feel like what we need is not more people (oh hey massive population jump in the last several centuries and the fact that our resources and infrastructure may not be able to keep up at that rate), just better ones.
The world needs people who are smart, sure, but more than that, the world needs people who give a shit. The other day, an acquaintance said "Stupid scares me, because I am afraid it's winning." Sometimes it does seem like stupid is winning, but I have hope. And it's kids like next year's class president that give it to me.
And who make losing last year's class president bearable.