It has occurred to me lately that it is possible to be too educated. To know too much. While that may sound like a preposterous statement, it has nonetheless felt very true for me these past few months. Your professors teach you so many things, but they do not tell you how hard it will be to face coworkers, family members, and strangers who have not had the privilege of being in class with you when professor so-and-so led that one discussion that forever changed your perspective. They do not teach you how to converse with a world that has forgotten how to question and how to allow space for new ideas, or for growth or change.
In my time as a student, I have learned that it is a dangerous thing to stop studying, to arrive at a point at which you are no longer teachable. Yet this is what I’ve found has happened to most of us as time has gone by. We receive a diploma, we leave the classroom and we forget that this doesn’t certify us to stop thinking critically, to stop asking questions. But we do. We fall into routines that are, if not easy, at least well-known. In the endeavor to survive, it becomes us vs. them. Odd phrases creep into our language, we talk of those people over there. We continue on with our traditions, make statements and arguments that would never hold up in any undergrad research paper, and we don’t stop to wonder why.
Tonight I sat across the dinner table from my dad, expressing some of my frustration about numerous conversations I’d had recently that had left me feeling disappointed and sad. I thought I wish we would all just be willing to learn from each other. To be students of a person whose experience is completely different from our own. What would that be like if we asked ourselves how it felt to be a man/woman, person of a different ethnicity, speaker of another language?
I have a dream. I dream that one day we wouldn’t be too proud to be students without expiration (or graduation as some say) dates. I dream that the next man who tells me he’s worried for my safety as a woman traveling to a foreign city would ask himself why violence against women is so high. And in so doing, he might become concerned, not just for me, but for all women, and seek—not merely to warn me of danger—but to become part of the solution to the problem.
I dream that when I walk into the place I work, what I hear won’t be the gossip of women who have nothing better to do than complain about their husbands, their children, or the girl who just walked out the door on lunch break. Instead, I dream I’d hear quiet. A quiet that comes not just from knowing how to keep your mouth shut, but from knowing a God who is full of peace, who knows how to quiet our hearts.
I dream of the time that when dinner with my dad is over, he won’t have to drop me off at my mom’s house and say goodbye. I dream that one day they’ll be in the same room together again and I won’t have to feel anxious about a fight breaking out because we will no longer let bitter roots grow up between us (Hebrews 12:15).
I dream we would stop shifting blame onto others and strive, along with Maya Angelou, to understand that “I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me,” and therefore know the responsibility is ours to accept the wrong we’ve done and dare to change it.
I dream the day will come when we know the words redemption, healing, forgiveness, adoption in action. That each of us would not be too lazy, stubborn, or proud to accept the role of a student so that one day we will learn what Jesus meant when he said “the kingdom of heaven is among you.”