The Battle of the Bereft


Last weekend a friend was visiting, and of course I began discussing my students, because what else do I have to talk about now? I talked about their problems, their behaviors, their tough home lives. So he challenged me to say what they were good at. And in that moment I realized just how bereft my understanding of them is. I couldn’t think of anything. Not one thing. I wanted to weep.

When the entire world tells you you are worthless, in what place do you claw to find succor?

I watch them clutch empty-hearted at the manufactured dreams of the complacent, and shit on the very fabric of their own existence.

Dreams of graduation into comfort seem to be the defining tunnel vision of my own survival. All I can envision are green trees, rolling hills, an empty swatch of air and bird ringed silence across my bedroom window. A river, somewhere, without the brown slogs of industry.

Already, I have abandoned them. To leave them to their trash strewn streets, the steps of apartment buildings that serve as the template for passing the time. To their endlessly working, endlessly shopping mothers, who give them whatever they want whenever they can.

In this ghetto of the soul, it’s all about power. You take it any way you can, you drag down those who might love you and beat them into submission.

This is the game we play, whether in the streets or in the classroom. Who is the powerful? Who is the one who will lead by the blood on his hands?

I am too battered right now to step away from the battle. I see only red before me. I am angry. I am filled with despair. And this is when I know that this is the only fight worth

losing.

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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