Something New

When something new comes along, it requires adjustment, doesn’t it? It was certainly true for me in the field of education. A new software program for teacher gradebooks, or a new approach to working with learning disabilities, or something much closer to my heart and mind: new and better ways to helps students acquire a second language. All of those were examples of “new things” that came along all the time. Add to that new people in the department or administration or school board and it was, if we were honest, almost constant adaptation to new things and people. We might find ourselves groaning to “get back to normal” in the face of so much constant change.

We live in a culture that would like us to think that there is a set way of doing things that we call normal, and we all should learn to settle into that set way, into normal. Never mind if the set way serves one group of people better or over another. Never mind if it doesn’t actually allow for some people to exist, have a voice, be seen or enjoy the rights and privileges that everyone else does. This is the way we do things, so get with it or get out. None of this has to be said very often. It is understood. There is normal and there is . . . abnormal.

I never thought of pluralism as a gift, but this is it, I think. It’s the reminder that nothing is ever really set or normal unless you are crunching data on a spreadsheet. Things and people are always changing, revealing aspects of themselves that seem new but which were always there (which the data didn’t and couldn’t account for). Settling into the set ways of doing things NEVER helps me grow as a person. In fact, just the opposite: settling into the set way insures that I will not grow. But, something new, someone new, a new perspective, a new way of understanding what it means to be human–that challenges me to change and to grow along with the something new.

Here’s the leap for me. Maybe you will see yourself here, too. While I am learning to embrace the new and see it as a way for us all to grow together, I may be prone to push back in the subconscious hope that we can all just settle into “normal.” What I have found is that every time I do that, I cause harm. And when I see that over my shoulder, looking back, it breaks my heart. The gift of pluralism invites me to let go of normal and embrace the wonders of everyone and everything, even those that I have not encountered yet.

~Bob Patrick

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1 Response to Something New

  1. katrina P yurko says:

    Your reflection brings to mind the constant balancing of the essential core of people, the core which is indelible, the core of us that is the one constant thing we bring to the table of humanity. Then there are the layers of social necessity and normal practices that are manifest hallmarks of how we integrate into the present culture and society. Oh my! What a complex system we have going! Now here’s something to think about….as we integrate we gain and we loose certain characteristics which are in the layers outside our core. Our core self is indelible. However, there is a certain commonality that’s borne through integration, one which follows the old adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s similar to a choir , each singing their part, yet making a combined sound that simply could not exist without Pluralism.

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