Human beings are pretty predictable, and we move in consistent packs: The ones who figure out the new things, the ones who follow along easily, and the ones who kick and scream their way to change, hanging onto the past with bloody fingernails.
The first group are those wily and wild radicals, the big thinkers, the far thinkers. They usually don't benefit much from their vast, enormous insight, though, because mostly, they are in jail or the insane asylum or ostracized from a community or ignored or fired from their jobs.
It's that second group, those who see the change, pick it up, and take it all the way to the DOW or Congress who make the big bucks and the big change happen in a major way. Actually, that's the front half of the second group. Or maybe just those who got in line first. The rest of the second group says, "That sounds like a good idea," and follows along.
Bill Gates is a perfect forward second pack example, a person who took what was being worked on by some mad scientist and made it into something amazing.
The third group are those sitting at home biting their nails, worried about the end of the world as they know it because 1) homosexuals can get married or 2) online teaching moved into the mainstream or 3) global warming is at least partially caused by human activity or 4) the economic practices of the past eight years have been a failure. This group fears change and new thought, and will fight about it until whoops! oh, it's true. Okay fine, they think. I'll buy a Prius.
I am not a far thinker. I don't know stuff that others do and can't come up with the thoughts that others don't have. I'm in the back of the pack of the second group, realizing the change after someone already pushed a bill through Congress or made a million on a service that uploads photos to the internet and then mails prints to our houses. I reap the benefits of the second group's activities, but I don't make a living from them. But I can see what's working, what's needed, and I am not afraid of change.
Humans roll in these packs of three, and the election on Tuesday shows each pack's viewpoint. Any business office will have representatives from the three packs. Every classroom. I will never forget this one student in graduate school. Over twenty-one years ago, I was enrolled an American Literature seminar taught by Eric Solomon at SFSU, and in the class was one older man, maybe my age now, 47 or so. 50. He was wacky, coming up with interpretations about characters and plots that seemed bizarre. So what did we students do? We ignored him. We ostracized him. We wished he would shut the hell up.
Then one day, he came up with a theory that the main character in the Saul Bellow's The Victim, the novel we were reading ,was exactly like Bartelby the Scrivener, Melville's character. Both of these two characters (Bartelby and Asa Levanthal) refused to budge from their situations, preferring "not to" at all times.
Suddenly, we all saw our fellow student, amazed at his insight. Of course. Duh!
But by the next class, he was back to irritating us all and our professor, his forward thinking idea evaporated into air.
What causes struggle in the human larger pack is when there are tensions between the three groups. At the college I teach at, we are full of second and third-packers, those who want to move with the innovations and those who want to go backward in time, back to the days where they walked between the ivy covered walls wearing their cardigans, holding their schoolbooks against their chests, smiling into the collegiate wind. Many of my colleagues are afraid of different methods of delivering coursework to students, i.e., online "delivery systems."
To them, such teaching constitutes fraud, despite the fact that we have more students wanting in to those classes than we have classes to offer. When you are working a forty-hour-a-week job, taking 15 units, and raising two children, it is surely a relief to learn about point-of-view while sitting in front of your computer in your underwear at three am, the only time of the day you have for yourself.
My online classes are detailed and complete, and full of intense teacher interaction. I don't do much there that I don't do in front of students other than be there in front of them in my corporeal glory. Now, some students don't and won't and can't learn stuck in front of computer. They need that constant human presence to push them forward. And no one is saying to eliminate onland teaching by any means. But there are certain students and certain teachers who do very well with the online platform. They prefer it. It works for them.
So let's have both and stop worrying so much about it.
Worry keeps people in one place. Yes, it also keeps them alive sometimes, too. It's a nice adaptive behavior to have, say, when you live on a fault line or near a very dangerous piece of shoreline. Maybe I should move to Idaho, you think. Maybe I shouldn't swim off Ocean beach.
Good moves. You are still alive.
But when it comes to things that only facilitate the growth and happiness of others (marriage between people in love, access to education for more people, a healthier environment, a better bank account), the third group grits its collective teeth and holds on and on, until one day, it benefits them.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org