The Way of the World

Written by Andrew Nguyen, Video Coordinator, Team Massachusetts

I want to write this down before I forget it.

Like a baby playing at the park, refusing to go home, I want to cherish and nurture this feeling.

I was sitting in a room on the third floor of the Christ Church in Waltham when music began to drift through the window.

An ice-cream social on the lawn of the Waltham Public Library across the street was underway. A folksy band rattled off old-time music as elders and parents lounged on lawn chairs. Little children played. The young danced to the music in the free and jubilant way characteristic of the unburdened and carefree.

I was overwhelmed by emotion during the event, particularly at one point: Two elderly women slow-danced with each other—they could’ve been friends, cousins, it didn’t matter. Next to them were four little boys and two girls, dancing and exploding with emotion. It was beautiful to see the juxtaposition of age—the excitement of youth matured into a tender love.

The scene reminded me of an old desire—to be an elementary school teacher.

Seeing these children, so easily mingling and mixing amongst strangers of different sex, race, and age made my heart swell. I cannot recall feeling such a pure joy, one intact from judgment, mocking humor, satire… a simple joy radiating from a love of life, in such a long time.

It almost brought me to tears.

It is difficult for me to pin down how or why such a simple experience had such an impact on me—I’m no writer. But then, it is often the everyday, common occurrences that remind me of who I want to be and what I love.

My sister Theresa, mother, and baby niece Emma–some of the many people I cherish in my life.

I remember sitting on the library stairs, watching a manifestation of love, and thinking, Huh, I signed up for Climate Summer to see if I want to dedicate my life to environmentalism, only to discover I want to be a teacher?

But, I remind myself, drawing from my first blog post, that we are all connected. A teacher is not only a teacher, but can also be an environmentalist, a parent, a brother, a friend, a feminist, a pacifist…

So, if I pursue being a teacher, I can still embody the multitude of persons I want to be.

I want to nourish in my students an appreciation. Not of money, of cars and celebrities—but of life. It is difficult to restructure a mental framework if a child has always been told, taught, and conditioned to believe a lie, to ignore humanity’s intrinsic nature.

I don’t want to say I will be teaching children to place love and caring over greed and selfishness. Teaching is only required of things not inherent in a person.

I will be reminding them, deepening their understanding and appreciation of their true values. Seeing the youthful innocence on the library lawn reminds me that, at some point, we were not afraid to freely express our love. It is only after becoming hardened and consumed by society does this expression shrivel and flee, hiding in a corner of our heart—weak but still alive, still believing in the goodness of humanity.

I wished I had recorded or taken pictures of the moment to remember it forever. But then again, perhaps I wouldn’t have been fully absorbed in the experience if I was viewing it through the peripheral of a camera. Just as my camera lens filters my perception into an artistic, analytical mind-frame, so does society’s lens dictate the human experience—a Muslim is a terrorist, an African-American is a criminal, a woman is to be ordered around—biases, stereotypes, out-groups, people to be wary of, rather than individuals to learn, grow, and share the range of human emotions with.

So maybe, as a teacher, as a friend, as part of the eternal energy in this world, will I be able to help remove the filter of discrimination and hate. And on one glorious day, the world will be at peace—the range of humans, animals, trees, plants, the sky and the water—everything coalescing in one harmonious rhythm. And there will be no need for a camera to record this.

Because people will say, how could the world ever be any other way?

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