Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The planet did not stop spinning

n many sad events - perhaps not all - there are useful lessons. My father’s death called me away from the university and separated me from emails for the better part of two weeks. Life went on. At American University, the committed, talented Center for Teaching Excellence staff conducted workshops, kept computer assisted classes functioning smoothly, planned events, attended meetings and dealt with the budget. In Sri Lanka, the International Centre for Ethnic staggered through a crisis and coped, despite the fact that most pleas for input from me were refused or postponed. Some individuals survived despite the fact that their requests for appointments with me were ignored. Others continued on their daily rounds without benefit of the emails that I could not answer.

Retrospectively, this could be viewed as sobering - did my absence really make so little difference? It could be viewed as empowering - when I was absent, others learned that they could do what needed to be done without me, perhaps even more effectively. It could be viewed as liberating - I have the freedom to choose when, how and to what degree I will make a difference on this planet. In the areas to which I choose not to attend the planet will, nonetheless, not stop spinning.


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