“HUMP AHEAD” says the sign leading up to Bayan Bahrain School, and at first I thought it was funny in the kind of way to which you shouldn’t admit when you’re a distinguished teacher on a distinguished trip.

Metaphor, though- teachers are allowed to do that stuff.  And with all this diplomatic hemming and hawing with which people are approaching our delegation of hardy (?) ambassadors, I’d like to add my blunt two Bahraini dinars:

I do not represent Trump’s America.  The notion of white supremacy nauseates me, and I’m equally sickened watching the smoldering frustration of decades stoked by a frenzied media divisively chanting “fight!”  I want to curl into a protective little ball when further fear prompts people to retract into fractured sides, tending only to the notion of their own at the expense of a greater global good.  And I’m furious that that instinct represents exactly what is angering me.  A compulsion to retreat, to slap on a bandaid of avoidance and whiny denial rather than to figure out exactly how this problem came to be so I can work on some kind of actual goddamn healing.

So “HUMP AHEAD” has become my little mantra.  I mean shoot- I’m a history teacher, and I’ve been in classrooms in South Carolina- not an actual country but let’s go with it- in Japan, in the Philippines, and now in Bahrain.  Portland, as I so eloquently (accidentally) spilled yesterday, is my comforting compact “we are the world”, where every day I go into a microcosm where beautiful little people with ties to Somalia, Iraq, DRC, Burundi, Mexico, the Penobscot Nation (so many!) come to learn and question and share and make terrible hilarious jokes and connections that bind us all together.  We laugh at the same things (often squids and chickens) we question the same things (often human behavior) we work through fear of the same things (lately- for crying out loud- clowns) and we’re inspired by the same things (people helping people, even when it’s hard.  And also space: the infinite frontier!)

But also and vitally, we have different, diverse, creative ways of solving problems that we all need to call on to bust on through this hump.

I’m in the Middle East.  Initially I applied for this trip so I could figure out how to knowledgeably dispel the common “yikes” that inevitably forms at the very mention of the area.  The world’s current common “yikes” is my home now, though.  And while I still intend to reach out here and make connections in an area people generally dismiss with confusion and misunderstanding, my purpose has changed with the times.  We have a giant schoolyard bully on our hands and he’s trying to put together an elite clique for protection of power.  That wouldn’t be good for the playground, and it isn’t good for the world.  But hey- we’re most of us good people when we remember not to access our crazy sides.  And we don’t have to access our crazy sides when we use our supports and our resources; we don’t have to let Red Rover over if we hold hands and stand up against him.

Hump ahead with me, y’all?



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