All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Guilt By Disassociation

I sometimes wonder whether I am being either extraordinarily selfish or just petty when I think about all the issues in my own life that aren't working out. Looking at the kind of devastation caused in Mumbai, I really do feel that my problems aren't worth too much.

But the problem with taking this approach is that eventually, as callous as it sounds, the attacks in Mumbai will distance themselves from our psyche, in the same way September 11th and July 7th have done. I don't mean this with any kind of disrespect, but time has an asynchronous way of cushioning the raw ferocity of emotions that we all feel when we hear about these atrocities and eventually, we find ourselves looking at the events if not with less horror, than with the anaesthetically numbed memory, if you can call it that.

I say this because in a week or two, when events will have taken over our minds, my problems - the ones I felt guilty about considering in the first paragraph - will still be there, as raw and fresh as when they they first burrowed their way into my thoughts.

In short, I've had a pretty crap day and it doesn't look as though things are getting better. I got really upset with a comment that a student made and I know that I shouldn't take these things to heart. In "teaching school", we are told how to biologically transform our bodies so that they grow a very thick epidermis, if you will, on top of the one we were born with. Kids can be callous at times, not realising how hurtful they can be and by and large, I take 99% of the comments I receive with a heavy duty pinch of salt.

However, every now and again, one of the barbs gets through and pierces the inner sanctum.

I've spent the day trying to rationalise the statement he made and understand why he made it. I'm becoming a pretty adept apologist for a student whom I don't think realises that he should be saying the "S" word. In his frame of reference, his argument was sound and although I understand why he said what he did, I feel hurt that he chose to attack me in such a way. I really have tried to assist him and respond to all his questions. I've been diligent with my feedback, ensuring he knew what to do to get a better grade.

At times, teaching can be a really crappy job. You spend hours preparing lessons, marking work and then turn up, only to face abuse from ungrateful teenagers. I think they forget that we are not automatons, but real people who can also bruise much more easily than we let on.

Then again, looking at the what's going on in the world, maybe I should be glad that I haven't got bigger problems to worry about - like finding a new job or Heaven Forbid, dodging a terrorist's bullets.

Perhaps, just being alive is the best way I can honour the people who weren't blessed to see the light of day last Thursday morning.

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