I've been thinking, lately, about how anyone musters up the courage to tell a story, with everything that's going on in the world.
Sometimes I picture stories as 3rd graders. When I taught 3rd grade, it never ceased to amaze me how many hands would go up when I asked a question. It was definitely a departure from the blank stares, grunts, and silence from 8th graders. But 3rd graders? They would almost bounce out of their seats with excitement.
Sometimes they would actually stand up involuntarily as they raised their hand, catch themselves, and then sit down on one of their knees, so their hand was still a bit higher than the rest. I could never find the time to call on all of them. It wasn't like I didn't want to - I loved hearing what each and every one of them said. But since I always asked a lot of questions, and nearly all of the students would raise their hand for each question, you can do the math. We would have been in class for hours. It always gave my heart a pang when I had to say "last one" and watched the students who hadn't been called on slowly lower their hands.
There are so many stories right now fighting to be called on.
There are the stories everyone wants to talk about, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie getting a divorce. There are the stories that make some outraged and others uncomfortable, like the deaths of Keith Lamont Scott and Terence Crutcher, and the protests in North Carolina over black people being killed by police. There are stories people would like to avoid, like the fact that civilians are still getting bombed in Syria. And the too close to home stories like the bombings in New York City and New Jersey. There are the election stories that get more unbelievable as weeks go by. Let's not forget about the other stories that are underreported or swept aside every single day.
And then I wonder, where do my stories fall here? Would I call on my stories if I were still a 3rd grade teacher?
I haven't really come to any conclusions about what stories to tell. I only know that it does continue to matter that we tell them. Yet at the same time, we just need to be aware of the stories that may be too shy to raise their hand, or that don't get called on because they are sometimes labeled "disruptive".
Every single story matters. Even though it'll take until the end of time, let's extend class. I'll always call on your story.