Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Public Service. Personal Growth. Elected Office.

Yesterday, as a ripe young 40-year old, I received my first nomination for elected office. Student government office that is.
Let's rewind a bit to my previous incarnations as a student and briefly recap my experiences in student government in elementary, middle, high school and college.

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That about sums it up. I've never, that I can recall, been elected to hold office in any sort of student government, or any other government for that matter. There's a pretty strong correlation between the number of elected positions I've held and my desire to participate in government as anything more than a voter. Never held a position. Never wanted to. I loathe bureaucracy. Seriously. I've always viewed most governments as red tape factories, whose primary function was to give people who like to talk something to do while the rest of the people work. And I prefer working.

Back to yesterday...I was minding my own business, goofing off with some classmates, while the rest of the student body of the Clinton School nominated their peers to represent them in various capacities when suddenly, I got nominated (thanks, Ivanley). The process is polite enough to allow a nominee to decline the nomination, which I pondered doing for several long seconds. On the one hand, I was definitely flattered to be nominated, but on the other hand, I have 40 years of the previously described bias against government. The last few weeks have started to chip away at that bias though. In listening to stories about Bill Clinton and speeches by Congressmen Vic Snyder and Mike Ross, I've come to see that some elected officials really want to serve the public. It was that idea that persuaded me to at least accept the nomination.

I accepted the nomination but my aforementioned biases won out when it came to voting. I voted for one of the other nominees. My classmates, however, voted for me. Don't get too excited - I'm not the class president (or as we say, 'representative'). I am, ironically, the elected official in charge of elections. My job will be to ensure a fair and efficient voting process for elections held during my term. In other words, low man on the elected totem pole. But still, I'm on the totem pole. Here's what that means to me. First and most importantly, my classmates, whom I have ENORMOUS amounts of respect for, voted for me. Every day I understand more the value of the respect of good people and these are really, really good people. Second, I will challenge myself to more thoroughly understand the processes of government. Personal growth in an attempt at public service through elected office. I'd think I was taking this way too seriously if I didn't get so giddy at the idea. :-)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I wonder


Below is a comment from a friend of mine and pastor of a church in Idaho.

Marci Glass said...

Thanks for keeping this blog so that the rest of us schlubs can follow along while you are off doing great things for the world!
Very exciting!

That sentiment has been in expressed in a variety of ways by a variety of people over the past few months.

To the right is a picture of another friend of mine in San Antonio. The little boy is a youngster from Haiti she and her family are in the process of adopting.
The adoption process has taken over a year already and many times throughout the experience it looked as if the boy would never join their family.

The little boy arrived in the United States right around the time I arrived at the Clinton School. As I pondered our two arrivals and the things we each could look forward to in the coming years, I found myself wondering if I would be learning anything at the Clinton School that would compare to what had just been done by my friends in San Antonio. In the next two years, I would be spending hours reading, discussing and practicing how to Make a Difference in the world, but would anything I learn be more important than the lesson of opening your heart and home to completely love another human being.
I also wondered about the home I left behind. As a teacher at the International School of the Americas, I had the opportunity to make an impact on many lives every year. After teaching for 17 years, I'd lost focus on how to make the most of that opportunity. In some ways I think I came to the Clinton School to remind me how to fully be where I already was.

So, Marci and other schlubs, no more of that schlub talk. As you pastor your church or love your neighbor or teach your children, remind yourself that you're making a difference wherever you are (and you're not paying tuition to do it). :-)