Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Making a difference?

So, I'm back at college.

On my freshman retreat--years ago, now--all of the freshman were given t-shirts that read:

'I am "Making A Difference"'

It struck me as odd that "making a difference" would be put in quotes. Was it sarcasm? Yeah, that class is "making a difference," alright.

I just couldn't figure it out.

Well, the "Making A Difference" phrase stuck. Every freshman retreater gets a t-shirt. I see a plethora of these t-shirts every day. And I wonder-- am I making a difference, or "making a difference?" Are my classmates making a difference, or "making a difference?"

One of my suitemates was in my room late into the night and she talked about her biggest fear. It wasn't public speaking. It was being forgotten.

She wants to be an elementary school teacher, but she thinks that maybe that's too insignificant, and people will forget her.

I said that nobody forgets their second-grade teacher. I understand the need to do something with your life that really will make a difference, and I understand the doubt that your chosen profession will be the venue for a cataclysmic change in the way that life IS.

And, to be honest, I don't see all of my classmates, or even most of my classmates, being the kind of people who will make a difference. There's a few who "make a difference."

Last year, early on in the fall semester, one of the freshmen got expelled for dealing cocaine. He went to prison and that was the last I heard of it. Imagine my surprise when I recognized him this year, an incoming freshman. Again.

Dealing cocaine in some of the most vibrant years of your life. That "makes a difference." Sure.

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