A grad professor of mine always talked about an assignment one of the student teachers he oversaw did with her class. She was reading The Age of Innocence with her students and asked them to complete the sentence, “We live in an age of ________.” In other words, she was asking students to come up with one word to define the times in which we live.
I love telling people this story because I usually tell people that the perfect word for our times is “retraction.” This is because I always think people say what they mean, what they’re really thinking, then when the world (or sometimes just a few) disagree, they retract their statements, apologize, and vow to be less offensive later on down the line.
These days, though, perhaps the word for our times is “contradiction.” Why? Because the world we live in is filled with people who shop at Whole Foods and buy Fair Trade products, but who no longer support labor unions. Because the world we live in has people who would never put their child in a school that had 35 days of testing (in fact many of them would pay exorbitant amounts of money in tuition to avoid it), but they would force that amount of testing on people who have no choice but to public school-educate their children. Because we have a president who is a Democrat, a traditionally pro-union party, but who seems to be joining his Democrat friends in demanding union money for their campaigns, but leaving unions hanging with silence and lack of support when it comes to the laws that want to rip unions to shreds.
I don’t know how to fix the world or its problems, but I do know that a lack of common sense seems to be plaguing many of those around me. Perhaps the easiest thing to do to change the age we live in is to simply start using some more common sense and encouraging others to do the same. Perhaps we could put it in a letter and send it to the President himself!