Friday, August 12, 2016

One Thing Leading to Another

What I love about life is how we sometimes find ourselves wandering farther and farther along on fascinating paths we never intended to trod.

Last spring, during my semester of teaching as a visiting professor of philosophy at DePauw, I volunteered to teach a course on a crucial, urgent, timely topic: the ethics of immigration policy. I knew it would be a fiendishly difficult class to teach, given both my staggering level of initial ignorance of the subject and its potential for intense controversy. But I chose to do it, anyway, believing that students, and citizens, need to know more about immigration policy in light of the heartbreaking refugee crisis in Syria and the incendiary anti-immigration election rhetoric here at home.

I taught the class. It was hard - often exhausting, and frustrating, and tense. But I learned a ton teaching it, and I think my students learned a ton, too.

Whew! I thought I was done thinking and talking about the ethics of immigration policy for a while.

I wasn't.

When I returned home to Boulder, the worship committee at my church asked me to preach a sermon for Peace and Justice Sunday, focused on immigration.

I was asked to give a reprise of that sermon at a worship service our church hosts twice a month at a local retirement community.

A friend asked me if I'd have lunch with him and his middle-school son, an extremely bright and thoughtful boy who happens to be interested in . . . immigration policy. That's what I did today, and I can report that Ben would have easily earned an A in my undergraduate course.

This fall I'm going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at the invitation of a former graduate student, now a faculty member at Carolina Coastal University. She arranged a multi-tiered visit where I'll speak to her daughter's elementary school and to university creative writing students, as well as to philosophy students and fellows in the university's ethics program. What topic did they want me to present in the ethics talk? Yes, they thought the students would be most interested in hearing something about . . . immigration.

Last, but certainly not least, I'll be a more informed voter in November, a better citizen than I was a year ago when I first had the idea of seeing if I could prepare to teach this course.

So next time I have a challenge I'm not sure about, I'm going to say yes. And then I'll follow that path where it leads.

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