Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Friday, June 25, 2004

Talking to Kids

For a few minutes after the second plane hit on 911, Bush talked to some kids.
That probably didn't really change anything, and maybe it was good for him to regroup. It certainly makes him look dumb in Michael Moore's new movie. That's about all I've got on that, except that there is indeed something tremendously powerful and grounding about talking to kids on 911. This is my journal entry from that day. I'm copying it word for word, arrogance hiding uncertainty, misspelling, wrong guesses and all. My 20-20 hindsight is paranthetical. By the way, at the time I was in college observing at a local inner city school. The last part isn't bravado, and sometimes we grow into what we say in public.

"Today the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were struck. My best guess is that this is the work of Osana bin Ladin, an international terrorist and former member of the Mujahadeen, the Afghanistani freedom fighters. This was my first time viewing students in the midst of a national tragedy, and I was given a challenge greater than I have yet received.
Before my arrival at the school I created a brief fact report on what we knkew about the bombing. I had the privelege of attending class with Dr. Mark Ensalaco, an expert on Global Politics. Following class, I "shadowed" Dr. Ensalaco, looking up information and working with him as he prepared his notes to work with Channel 7 as an expert on the tragedy. This afforded me the opportunity to provided teachers at Belmont High School with some information beyond the cope of the available news media.
After presenting this information to my cooperating teacher he did something that I found challenging but exciting. After beginning his class, controlling the classroom, and beginning to address the issues he introduced me as a guest speaker. this was an exciting chance to be on the front lines (my perception being that the front lines of this battle were in the spirit of American kids) restoring fear with vision, hope with despair.
I began the discussion simply, explaining that given the incredible importance of what we were talking about, I was sure they would pay attention. I taugh them for about twenty five minutes, lecturing on the simple topics of the Geogaphy of the Middle East with an emphasis on the separate ethnicities and religous differences, and more importantly that all Muslims were not terrorists. I next gave a brief background of who Osama bin Ladin was, and discussed the goals and methods of terrorism. After this, I took questions concerning the information we discussed, and any other concerns people had.
Some questions were academic, "Why is it that we're bombing Iraq?" Some betrayed impestuous youth "Can't we just bomb the whole middle east" (A young neo-con I guess)Some questions, the ones that snapped me out of the anesthetic distance that my role as "guest-speaker" afforded, came much closer to the fear of the situation, "My brother is in the service, is he going to have to go and fight?" Questions like this forced me to grow as a "teacher." Certainly, I was there to impart enough information that the class did not feel trapped tragically far from the "locus of control" (It's weird, some guys fly airplanes into our buildings, but somehow by knowing a little bit more than that other guy over there we feel somehow safer) but my role was more than that. I was able to provide kids with hope. this is what I said.
"The goal of terrorism is to make us afraid...don't fear. The goal of terrorism is to take you out of your life, to make you accept something less...refuse. Our goal is to challenge you to something greater; courage, hope, and the ability to be a man or a woman rather than a frightened child. It's fine to be scared, don't change who you are."


Blogger Justin said...


Each of us has his or her own story of what it was like to some incorporate the mind-bending horror of the events of 9/11 into our own otherwise manageable lives. Yours is well-told, extremely emotional and, for me, inspiring. You're right...I've never thought about it before, but you're right: the only way to foil terrorists is to refuse to give them what they want --our terror.

I'm really really really glad to have your blog address.


6:24 AM  

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