the enemy isn't a person

I'm sitting on the front porch, trying to construct a decent plog.  My hand wanders toward doodling and I end up sketching fictional characters.  I'm yearning for human conversation when my wife comes home and mentions, "We met a wonderful lady at the park.  I just felt like I had this connection with her."  

"Why is that?"  

"I had to correct your daughter," she says, knowing that it irritates me when she says "your" to describe the moments our daughter gets into trouble.  Why am I the rebel?  

"She had real empathy when I talked about the difficulty involved in having to discipline.  It turns out one of her sons is special needs and she feels a stronger sense of guilt every time she gets angry.  We talked about authority and authenticity.  It was strange to have this great conversation with a total stranger."  

"I know what you mean," I say.  Truth is I'm more introverted and I doubt that I would ever speak to a stranger in the park.  

"It turns out that she works at your school.  Her name is Eunice, I think."  

"Really tall, red hair?"  

"Nope.  It might be Mildred.  Do you have a Mildred?"  

"With the big mole on her nose?"  

"No, maybe it's not Mildred.  I know, it's Gertrude." 

"You mean Gertrude the Enemy of All Things Tom Johnson Wants to Accompilish?"  

"That's her?" 


"But she seemed so nice.  She even talked about how hard it is to do her job when there's so much pressure from above to get the teachers on the same track."  

It has me thinking about enemies.  Perhaps my wife is right.  Gertrude at the Park might be a different person than Gertrude the Ruiner of Plans.  Or perhaps she is he same person, but just complicated.  Maybe she's scared.  Maybe she's stressed by dealing with a special needs kid.  Maybe she's human after all.  

Perhaps Gertrude is not the enemy of pencil-based innovation.  Perhaps the true enemy is an ideology of articiality.  Or maybe the enemy is a much more visceral fear - a fear that our students will be behind on the global pissing contest.  Or maybe it's a system and a structure that churns out robotic students prepared for the factories.  Whatever the enemy is, I'm becoming convinced that it is not an individual or a person.  In fact, it is the opposite.  The enemy isn't human.  The enemy is a process of dehumanization.


  1. I appreciate your last two sentences. Conflict happens despite the best of intentions and we feel better if we can project our inner demon of resentment and anger onto the other person. It excuses our responses and releases us from the responsibility of resolving the conflict. After all, what compromise or understanding can there be between good and evil?

  2. Excellent post -- well and truly observed.

    When I was studying abroad I developed the theory that, "We're all 'that guy' a hundred different times a day to a hundred different people." I think this post says the same thing, although with more eloquence.

    It is interesting how a person can seem so nice in one context and so malevolent in another. Getting along with a difficult person often involves searching for the context in which they are nice, not in dealing with them in the context in which they are rude.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying here. The enemy is not just one person, or one teacher, for that matter. The enemy is whoever says we all have to be a certain way, and learn a certain way. As long as one can help shape their students into working members of society, why does it matter the way in which we do it?

  4. I like your optimistic perspective. It's one of the best weapons that teachers have.

  5. Well thank you very much! I consider that a huge compliment! I am new to to blogging so if you want you can give me some educational feed back on my blogs if you have time. I am taking the EDM 310 class and any educational feed back you might want to give me will be truly appreciated. Your a wonderful writer maybe I can try to mirror some of that in my own posts throughout the semester.