We all know the saying that we are each greater than the sum of our parts, but I like to expand this by saying I am greater than the product of the factors in my life. It’s funny because of the mathematical parallelism between sums and products, but it also changes the focus from the internal to the external.
When I think of the parts that make me up, I think of the roles I fill and the things I am. I’m a writer, a brother, a friend, a leader. I was homeschooled, graduated from a community college, and now I’m attending an awesome university. But when taken together, I am greater than any one of these things.
When I think of the factors that have brought me here, I think of the outside forces that have shaped me: My parents are divorced, I’ve grown up depending on government assistance, and I’ve only been able to make it through school because of the challenges I’ve overcome. Yet I am greater than each of these things, and I am greater than merely taking them all together.
It’s hard to say which came first–the outside challenges or the changes inside–but all of these elements have brought me here and made me who I am, and because of the extraordinary opportunities I’ve been given, I’ve finally realized where I want to go in life.
It’s finally happened. Yesterday while I was at work my boss of over three years (and teacher a long time before that) came up to me and asked, “Am I correct to assume you won’t be returning next year?”
I looked at him and said, “My hope is to be at State, so… yes.”
It was only after he had walked away and I was walking back to my kids that I clutched at my chest and shook my head, whispering to myself, I can’t believe it’s finally true. It’s all suddenly real now. It’s hard to believe I’ve reached the end at last.
That’s right, folks, you’ve heard it first from me: Family values are under attack. People across the nation are fighting for the right for same-sex couples to wed, to adopt children, to raise families with love and compassion–and our family values are under attack.
You might think I’m on the wrong side of the fence here, but you’d be mistaken.
Now came the finale. Now, he told us, the three men in the group were miraculously pregnant, eight months along. I felt the weight at my abdomen, and when he told us to stand, I struggled to move from my seat, barely kept my balance once I was standing, and then moved carefully back to my seat when he told us to sit.
I was skeptical, but I was also intrigued. Here I was last night, at the Phi Theta Kappa Carolinas Region Regional Conference: After our first general session and dinner, there was a presentation on…HYPNOTISM!
The Saturday before last was the youth Shabbat at my synagogue. In other words, the majority of the service was led by youth from our congregation, mostly middle- and high-school-aged students, with a few college kids and some of the teachers at our synagogue’s congregational school mixed in. It got me thinking. About a lot of things.
You and I are special. We were born into families with mothers and fathers that loved us and took care of us and made the choices we couldn’t make until we came of age and could start to make those choices. More importantly, their love and guidance helped us to grow into men and women capable of making those choices. But for many children, not yet of age, who can’t make these choices, who can’t take care of themselves, this isn’t the case.
Every year there are more and more children trapped in foster care in need of loving, supportive families; however, fewer than half of these children will ever find permanent homes. There’s a shortage of families who want to adopt, and against all beliefs, some loving parents are not even allowed to adopt. If we change our heartless ways and start to allow gays and lesbians to adopt, many of these children will have a chance at finding families who will love and care for them as they deserve.
When I was younger (and by all regards, I’m still young–don’t get me wrong–but bear with me please), Hebrew school was the cornerstone of my life. “Wait,” you say, “this is Pokemon Wednesday. What’s Hebrew school got to do with it?” I’ll get there. I repeat: Bear with me please. My mother, kitchen manager of my synagogue, and my sister, attending college ten minutes across town, simultaneously set the stage for me to spend most of my days (at least, as memory serves; fact itself may differ accordingly) trapped in my synagogue’s social hall doing schoolwork, reading, wandering around aimlessly as I fantasised about worlds I’ve still yet to commit to paper, and–here it comes–playing Pokemon. Although many great things I’ve accredited to this confinement, the one in particular I choose to recall today is the only one of relevance here: The conjunction between Pokemon and Hebrew school.
Chances are, when I like something, I like it forever (or at least long enough to feel like it).
Most people these days equate Pokemon with childish cartoons and simple-minded video games that went out with the nineties, but alas, I disagree (well, I do think the anime has become quite childish, but there was a time, while it was under 4Kids, that it was actually fairly decent, but I digress). So, you might be asking, why do I still like Pokemon?