Life Lessons

I’m a die-hard fan of Boy Meets World.

I have all of the seasons on DVD. I know many of the episodes by heart. You can begin playing the first episode on a single DVD and I will know all of the subsequent episodes. I know all of the storylines, all of the characters, can quote it up and down. I adore Boy Meets World.

I haven’t watched it in a while and a memory floated up in me today as I was volunteering.

Scene setting: season three, episode 18, titled Life Lessons. Mr. Feeny institutes an exam schedule that Shawn and Cory disagree with and they create a movement with students to try to pressure Feeny to change the exam schedule. Feeny won’t budge. The mob proceeds to vandalize Feeny’s home and when he arrives at school the following day, he tells Cory he plans on retiring. He explains that throughout his career as an educator, he has found that the majority of students are eager to learn and the minority of students don’t care about their education. In an infamous line, he states, “Now the minority has become the majority.”

Moving forward, the mob, without Shawn, goes to the school one night and begins spray painting and breaking windows. Shawn intervenes and begins to argue with the leader of the mob, Denny:

Denny: What’s Feeny ever done for you?

Shawn Hunter: You see those bolt-cutters in your hands?

Denny: Yeah, so?

Shawn Hunter: You see I don’t have any in mine?

Denny: Yeah?

Shawn Hunter: *That’s* what he’s done for me.

This ties back into episode five of the same season, with another infamous Mr. Feeny quote:

“Different things to different people, I suppose. A firefighter can be a hero. I knew a man who worked in a factory for 30 years at a job that he hated. It was the only way he could support his family. I felt that he was a hero. But to me, a real hero is someone who does the right thing when the right thing isn’t the easy thing to do.”

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This floated up today as I was volunteering and reading My President Was Black by Ta-Nehisi Coates published by The Atlantic. A thought began pounding out in my mind: what would Mr. Feeny think about this world today, our society, the election, where we are headed in humankind?

Call me childish for always reaching back into my childhood subconscious when the world becomes too painful to grapple with and maybe I am rushing into dramatics when a four year presidency may not be long at all. But more than anything I wanted to know what the fictional Mr. Feeny would think about oil executives as secretaries of state, fast-food moguls overseeing healthcare, an anti-semitic as the right-hand man, a whole slew of people worth billions and billions of dollars overtaking an office that the first black president of the United States occupied.

How can I make sense of that?

Coates is, of course, excellent. Powerful. I spent over an hour reading his essay. I had to take breaks. I had to lean back and remember to breathe. The fact that a writer was able to soundly identify the unfairness of it all in one paragraph astounded me:

“Pointing to citizens who voted for both Obama and Trump does not disprove racism; it evinces it. To secure the White House, Obama needed to be a Harvard-trained lawyer with a decade of political experience and an incredible gift for speaking to cross sections of the country; Donald Trump needed only money and white bluster.”

The essay teased out everything that encapsulates the President–faithful of humanity, measured, intelligent. It reminded me of a certain teacher, and maybe again I am being childish but there are few things I feel like I need more than a President or a teacher giving some brand of insight that makes people feel like it’s going to be okay, or that we can have some control over our imminent futures.

Even still, last night I was driving home from taking a Litigation final alone. I was on Earhart Boulevard coming into Orleans Parish from Jefferson and listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song Dark Necessities was playing, I was smoking a cigarette, the city lights glowing over the bend, the southern heat seeping into my bones and a sense that a delicate balance of the world was permeating the moment.

It felt like everything would somehow be okay. It felt like even when times are so difficult internally and externally and it is easy to sink low, maybe we have to remember that when they go low we go high, and  maybe that prompts us to address beauty and bravery even more fully when it is in front of us.

You don’t know my mind
You don’t know my kind
Dark necessities are part of my design
Tell the world that I’m falling from the sky
Dark necessities are part of my design.

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