There is a bookstore/tea room in Ann Arbor called Crazy Wisdom. Therein are non-mainstream books and magazines. The other day, I got a copy of the most recent issue of the magazine "Z". This is one of the periodicals recommended by Nim Chimpsky as an antidote to the mainstream press controlled by The Man.
Later, I took the magazine to read during the local school board meeting. Or, that’s what I meant to do. The meeting however, provided me with a rare glimpse into the ordinary life of a small community.
This being leadership month (or week, or award-category du jour) there were lots of proud mommies and daddies and digital cameras to record the reading of the glowing recommendations and award-presenting, and hand-shaking. Some of the nominations actually cited leadership among the qualities possessed by the nominated students. The community newspaper reporter on scene gathered the winners for a group photo. It was gratifying to see the back story to those bumper stickers proclaiming children as good citizens. The process not only provides an opportunity for everybody to feel good, it also seems to build a sense of community that seems missing these days from a lot of places.
There were also several teenage camera operators placed strategically around the school cafeteria where the weekly public meetings are held. The entire public proceedings are broadcast on local closed circuit educational television. Other public meeting business concluded, the board convened for an executive session. The parents and children left for home
The handful of teenagers operating the recording devices began to pack up the surprising elaborate equipment. It’s a new school year, and these kids are taking some broadcasting technical courses. Their teacher informally guided them in how to pack, load and transport their equipment back to the studio. “Let’s get this stuff back and tomorrow we can start the editing process. We’ll show them what we can do”.
I was trying to be inconspicuous, burying my face in the magazine. reading my anarchist magazine. But I was listening intently to the casual conversations of these high school students. As they packed up, stacked up, and carried the TV equipment back to the lab, they were talking to each other. The kids were not all getting along, but they were in the process of learning how. I overheard part of a conversation between two boys.
“Your definition of racism is broader than mine. Every time I say something you disagree with, you call me a racist”.
“It’s not that I object to what you’re saying. It’s that you can’t seem to voice an opinion without being rude or confrontational. Everything we don’t agree on doesn’t have to turn into a nasty argument”.
I went to the meeting expecting to be entertained. In contrast to my low expectations of local politics, I came away thinking maybe we’re not doomed after all. Crazy wisdom for these worrisome times.