At the start of my 80th year, I agonize most about how much I still don’t know. As an advocate of life-long learning, everyday I’m confronted with new and challenging ideas and information. I’m grateful, however, that my parents instilled in me a love for learning and an insatiable curiosity. Always questioning. Taking nothing at face value. Looking not just at the other side but being open to examining all sides.
To this end, I’m deeply grateful for Calvin University’s January Series, offered each year and presenting highly informative and thought-provoking speakers. For an hour a day for fifteen days. I’m back at my winter happy place in AZ, so the 12:30 pm EST offering is 10:30 my time. A great time to still be able to start my day slowly, then settle in with my computer screen, notebook, and pen.
Here are my simplified take aways from a few of these presentations. The planners of this Series could not have known when they were planning what would be happening in these United States at this time. But the topics directly addressed current issues.
From Tara Westover, author of Educated: If my viewpoint differs from others, ensure that I’m for the cause and not simply against the other person.
From Jeffrey Rosen of the National Constitution Center: I have a duty to learn what the Constitution says. (Most of us don’t know what it says or the meaning of what it says.) With the issues facing us right now, I must remember to approach them with reason based on knowledge, and not passion. A resource: the interactive constitution. One example, learn arguments from both sides to Supreme Court opinions.
From Dr. Danelle Allen of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences: I have renewed hope! Allen’s bipartisan commission, after listening across America, has come up with 31 recommendations “to reform our institutions to meet people’s needs.” Resource: our common purpose. One example, term limits for the Supreme Court.
I could go on, but you get the idea. I was especially moved by Allen’s words that we all need Civic Education because “democracy is intellectually demanding.” We need to understand “for and by the people.” This takes work on our part. “It’s not as easy to grab as just listening to a dictator.”
On this 30-month anniversary of Marv’s death, I can hear him saying, “There she goes again. Taking classes.” And he’s right. I also listened to a few OLLI classes, discussed Megan Phelps-Roper’s Unfollow (similarities to Educated) at a book club, discussed the movie Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (germane also at this time, on Netflix) with a small group on Zoom, and appreciated our newly sworn-in president’s embrace of veracity and respect for all people.
Indeed, my 80th year will continue to be a stimulating year of learning and growing and thanking God for the opportunity. Plus I got the first dose of vaccine yesterday! Yay! I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone in person again!
And my editor for my cancer-experience book is hard at work to give me suggestions on what to cut, change, or delete, so I’m looking forward to getting her report and working on the book until it’s as good as it can be. And I’m hoping to vacation with my daughter and family once again this summer. And I’m looking at returning to this happy place next year with my son and DIL. So lots of good things to look forward to.
I hope this year looks brighter for you, too!