No, I didn’t expect that they would roll out the red carpet

No, I didn’t expect that they would roll out the red carpet, pop open the champagne, and spray confetti, while carrying me about on a litter or hoisted high above their shoulders. I even expected that there would be plenty of people providing a polar opposite presentation of themselves from the selves they presented when I came down to visit. But, what I didn’t expect was the utter lack of any interest in hearing my story, coupled with a quick kneejerk need to lament and provide a litany of all of their latest issues that were keeping them busy–yes, making them the busiest people on campus. Whatever issues I was having–they had them in greater number and magnitude. Whatever joys and exciting things and blessings I might have managed to pull together to share were seen as bragging and inevitably the signs of my extreme privilege. They were a competitive bunch, but not of the variety you might find at a fancy law or business school, where resources, notes, tips and tricks to succeed are kept a secret or even outright disinformation is shared in hopes that a fellow student might fail. They were competitive in the myriad of contests to see who had done the most difficult church or mission work, who was the most marginalized for being not completely heteronormative, neurotypical and full of male pronouns, who had to juggle the most responsibilities of work, internships, classes and other projects and groups and committees, who was marching the most for various woke movements, who had read the most texts criticizing and deconstructing our privileged little bubble of an existence, who was going on to perform the most exotic and self-sacrificing and non-traditional work after graduation. They were sensitive and contextualized and hyper-righteous and so virtuous that any one of them standing next to MLK would appear to be like Christ and MLK like Donald Trump. Perhaps I’m the Pharisee for critiquing them, or they are the Pharisees for looking smugly over at me, or we are all a bunch of Pharisees hopelessly caught in a Pharasaic world without end, no messianic kingdom breaking in for us. Or perhaps I am too harsh and isolated from how real people around me really think, or perhaps we are all deluding ourselves and should be getting Computer Science degrees and cashing out and learning how to write code to make robots smarter to take away more jobs from fast food workers and coal miners. I can’t help but think that the world will end in my lifetime, even though I don’t really want it to at all, and I want to live for a few hundred years in a world that is more or less like the world I presently live in, except maybe there are many more boats out there being lifted by the tide that lifts me up and in that tide there isn’t too much detritus and death.

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