Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 09:21:59 -0400 (EDT)
Random Thought: A Small Flicker of Light In A Dark Day

As I walked through the watery air, I looked up at the stars this inky morning after a very dark day. It was hard not to think of all that loss of life, all that phyisical destruction, all that loss of American "it won't happen here" innocense. Amidst all that tragedy, I also couldn't stop thinking of an incident that occurred at 12:23 pm yesterday. I wanted to focus on it. In the immediacy of the moment, it seems like a faint flicker of light. I hope it will nova in time to come.

I was moping around the classroom stunned, sad, anxious. The tragedy was reaching into our classroom. I already had received a message from a student whose ex-boyfriend worked in the Pentagon and a family friend worked in the World Trade Center that she couldn't come to class. I already had received messages from her community members that they were going to stay with her. I was watching the students write on the blackboard, "I am pissed." "I am scared." "I am sad." "I am wondering about a friend." "I am confused." And, so on. I knew full well that the project presentations were going to be put on hold and I would let them talk.

Then, through the doorway came a "hulk" of a student who had been in my summer class. I was surprised to see him. He wasn't what you would call a fan of my educational philosophy and methods. In fact, he fought it kicking and screaming, tooth and nail, to the end. He took a few steps into the room and then motioned me into the hall. He turned. I followed.

He turned towards me, extended his hand, smiled, and said, "I want to thank you."

I clasped his hand and asked, "For what?"

He caught me by surpise. He was a member of what I called my "Oreo Community": two controlling perfectionists sandwiching a go-along. He and the other controller would go at it loudly in class over every project. Both always talking at the others; neither listening to anyone; each wanting to dominate; neither trusting nor respecting. I had many a conversation with all three. It was to no avail. They did their projects, but went through wars, bloody wars. During closure he stood up and proclaimed that the class was a waste of his time, he didn't learn anything, and I hadn't done my job.

"For teaching me that I had to be respectful and humble."

"What happened?"

"Oh, something that made me see, like you once saw of yourself, that I was more of a 'hot shit' than a 'hot shot.' When the light was focused on me this time, I saw the shadow I was throwing. It looked like what you told me it did only this time I saw it and I didn't like it."

"You're courageous. You didn't have to come to me."

"Yes I did. Now I know what humble means."


"Like you said, it means there is more to go. Perfection doesn't exist. I don't know it all and have to trust other people. Just wanted to say, 'thank you' and just keep on doing what you're doing. I just learned that I learned a hell of lot more than I thought, and that includes history."

"Thank you," I replied. "I needed that today."

He clasped my hand again, turned, and walked down the hall. I turned and went into class more than a bit invigorated and strengthened. He was a bright star in another wise very dark day.

Oh, by the way. Did I say I was stunned and sad. I am also angry. I gave blood yesterday. I urge all to do so. I heard one of those expert talking heads that always come out of the woodwork in such times as these. This time it was an economist who said that this country will slide into recession because of lost confidence and people will travel less. For what it's worth, I'll be damn if I'm going to let any fanatic shake my confidence. I am going to stay the course. I am not going to be frightened; I am not going to cower in a corner; I am not going to be demoralized. I and my family are supposed to fly to Boston this week. If there are flights, we will fly. I will not be nervous about flying. That victory is mine. A small light in dark times. I am angry. And if that be chauvinistic, so be it.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

Return to The Complete Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to the Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier