I’ve got a busy week ahead of me, so I decide to spend a few hours at the school library tonight so as to avoid any distractions that might be taking place at home. When you live with multiple other people, you’re bound to be distracted by something, even if it’s just your own mechanisms to tune out the distractions.
The main class I was reading for was a writing class, which is really halfway a reading class. I love that it’s my easiest class in terms of workload, but I’ve come up against the same problem that I have in pretty much every other literature-type class I’ve taken in the past: reading material. You think you’re going to read all these great classics like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and so on. Safe authors.
Instead you get contemporary authors who, while they may be good crafters, have terrible table manners. Long story short, I read the selected short story, I pack up, and head home.
And then I realize: the ground is wet and I’m wearing flip-flops, not running shoes. Have you ever tried to walk in wet flip-flops, let alone run in them? Normally, this wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I’m walking on wet concrete, not wet grass (which basically soaks your foot). But it’s dark because it’s late. Maybe 8:30 isn’t so late when you’re watching TV or finishing a dinner date or working on a paper for school (although that last one usually feels late), but when you’re walking the mile in between your college library and the parking garage where you left your car that morning–and you’re a woman–suddenly 8:30 seems like it could be midnight. Plus my backpack is full and not only does it weigh me down, but it also slightly alters my balance. So I’m on wet ground in shoes that are terrible for running with a heavy and unbalancing backpack and my glasses are also kinda spotty because it’s still drizzling rain into the late night.
And suddenly you start to think about all the things that could happen, even if you aren’t afraid they’re actually going to happen. Then a little light bulb of familiarity goes off in your head.
I’m honestly not afraid that I’m going to get mugged or raped or stabbed to death when I walk to my car. I feel pretty safe where I live (famous last words I know) and wherever I do go, I know that the Lord is with me. In the words of those three Hebrew guys, “We know that Lord will deliver us from your hands, but even if He doesn’t…” I know that He will provide the spiritual and emotional and psychological healing I need to move past any physical damage I incur.
Sorry, that’s a tangent. Any way, I’m honestly not afraid of those things. Yet the scenarios play in my mind. What would I do if this happened? What if it does happen? Could I make this happen to a character in a story and make it realistic? (Yeah I actually think things like that in those kinds of moments…)
All these thoughts just foist themselves on me because of the situation I am in.
Kind of like college life itself.
I admit I am still surprised at the amount of truly inappropriate material we are required to read to get degrees. Seriously. It makes me hope that my little sister never goes to college because I don’t want her exposed to it. Me, I had a bit of life without Jesus, so I’ve already known some of these things. But to get it from your teachers?
In the same way that I’m not really afraid of getting mugged, I’m not afraid of these stories affecting the way I live. Just because I read a story with sex scenes doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and mimic them. Or if I read about a character with a drug problem, it doesn’t mean I think I’ll develop one. I’m not afraid of “catching it” as someone once asked me sarcastically. I’m not performing any supercilious religious rituals to keep me from following in such narrative footprints.
But it still puts images in my head that I don’t want. It still makes me feel dirty. And I have to read it.
I can choose what channels I watch on TV or what stations I listen to on the radio or what movies I rent on Netflix. But I can’t tell my teachers what book to use or what stories to assign, and unless I want to fail my reading quizzes, I can’t refuse to read them. I don’t get why teachers think they’re doing us a favor by letting us read trash because it’s supposedly more interesting. Nothing makes me want to put down a piece of writing faster than a good ol’ F-bomb or a bit of descriptive anatomy.
Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there in case any high school or college teachers happen to read my blog at some point. You’re not doing us any favors. You’re just contributing to the downward spiral of our culture. Maybe that’s too harsh. How about this: Stop trying to be our friends and go back to being our teachers, our mentors. We don’t need you lower yourself to our level; we need you to set a standard of propriety that current and coming generations are sorely lacking.
So, I didn’t intend for this to be a PSA, but there it is. Have a good night folks.
(Please note that I do like my teacher for this class, I just don’t like the reading selections. She’s actually a very nice woman with a lot of great insight and thanks to her I now understand and enjoy the movie Rocky.)