Friday, February 20, 2009

Unpartisan Role Model

My college is "dry." This is to say, there is no permitted consumption of alcohol. Something about this has always bugged me: it kills any dialog about responsible use. Like the abstinence only sex educator in High School, any talk about alcohol with administration or some faculty feels shallow and even, at times, fraudulent.

Currently I am in a government class at the High School and am trying very hard to remain nonpartisan in the way I present information, but it goes father than that. If students ask questions about my own beliefs, I dodge or reflect them. At every moment I try to give away my own beliefs as little as possible.

I feel this is important, as my role should be to facilitate their understanding of their own beliefs. At the same time though, I wonder if my lack of honest dialog is as obvious and awkward to them as the above mention situations are to me.

Couldn't I be honest about my beliefs and yet still present information in a nonpartisan way? Would not honest dialog about my own struggles with, and development of, my political beliefs help them understand what it means to be an active and caring public? But at the same time, the line is so fine. Once crossed would I be able to be nonpartisan, once the precedent is set would they accept going back to hearing the vanilla-flavor centrist perspective again? Or would they begin to constantly ask me about my personal take on each lesson? Also, as a role model would not my honesty still influence them, even if I did not try to actively convert them to my side of the political spectrum? Or am I even kidding myself that I would be that important to them, or even the fact that I am currently succeeding at my deception. How many of them know what I believe?

That really trick is that to know the answers to any of these questions requires honest dialog. And I'm not sure it would be appropriate.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spending Money on What Matters

This week my house was two dollars over in our budget for groceries. It was the dish soap that did it.

Though this might seem like nothing special, it sparked quite a bit of discussion among myself and the nine other people I live with. The conversation was started by those who were upset, who wanted to be under budget constantly in order to get some money back at the end of the year. Thankfully, this was quickly side stepped by those of us who felt the budget was to be met because, after all, the budget was what we were willing to spent. Besides, we've been under budget pretty much every other week. Therefore the discussion became about what to do with our surplus: would we buy fancier food, or would be buy organic food. I ended up siding on the organic side of things, but that was a gut reaction, I hadn't really thought it through at the time.

When thinking about my reaction, it really wasn't about organic food at all. Though I appreciate fresh produce; organic, non-bleached flour just doesn't mean much to me. In the end my decision was about where we would be buying the organic food: the local Co-Op. I've been a member of this place since moving to Goshen and was a regular member during the first two years of college, however buying for one is a lot cheaper than buying for ten and this year I've been using Kroger as my sole source of groceries. It was one of those changes I hadn't even noticed until I thought about it.

It all comes down to wanting to support a local business. It helps that I like food, and I like the store's style... and I know most of the employees. Since supporting the Co-Op more was such a no-brainer. I quickly started thinking about the other business I should frequent more. Spending time on this was quite mind opening because I realized how many great small businesses there are in Goshen: Better World Books, The County Seat, Universal Tamal, Il Forno, Southside Soda Shop... Ok, so I mostly just came up with food, but I can't help it, I buy what I like. Though I'm not sure if my more miserly housemates will join in with me or not, this thought process/experiment has really renewed my zest for supporting local businesses, because this place has such a special community, why wouldn't I want to support that?