I confess. I live in a bubble. Absolutely. I click on my Facebook feed, and all I see is a solid wall of politics and art (all well-spelt, by the way). I live in the kind of idyllic, upper-crusty neighborhood I never even dreamed of as a kid, because I’d never seen this kind of suburban utopia. And I teach community college, so I’m surrounded by educated people who, like me, have had the privilege and sheer joy of many years of the best education this planet currently has on offer and chosen to – wait for it – help other people instead of profit. I don’t socialize willingly with a single Republican, and I donate to public radio, drink responsibly sourced espressos, have a hemp shopping bag, all the rest of it. And thus, per the NYT, I judge Fox viewers without knowing them, I don’t understand the pain of white gun owners, I’m a coastal elite, and I’m the one who let Trump win.
Well, yeeeeah. That’s all kinds of bullshit, and I’m not even going to delve into WHY that’s all kinds of bullshit. But it has made a little light go off for me, a little realization about the bubble I actually do live in.
I live in a bubble with refugees, with immigrants, with new citizens and fleeting visitors. I work and live, day in and day out, with people who are everything except “white” and everything but “American.”
I hear ten different languages spoken a day, every day. I’m an avowed atheist who’s celebrated Eid, who’s broken fast with friends at sundown during Ramadan. I’ve helped women adjust their hijab and had veiled women uncover in my office with relief. I’ve helped undocumented students figure out housing applications, helped DREAMers write college essays, helped Afghani military translators find therapists to help with their PTSD, tried to help a mother stop her daughter’s planned genital mutilation. I live in this bubble with people who have seen loss and pain, and joys as well, that I will never understand.
In my bubble are people who tried to rise up in their home countries and make it better – and couldn’t; who are here because otherwise, they would certainly be dead. And every term, every ten weeks, for the past sixteen years, I have had the pleasure, the honor, the responsibility to meet another fifty, sixty, seventy of these people: to meet them where they are, get to know them, and to love them, as best as I can. Because you can’t teach – excuse me; I should say, I can’t teach – someone unless I feel some love for them.
Even the torturer. Even the war criminal. Even the rapist.
And certainly, for fuck’s sake, the woman in a hijab.
And this is where I live. Inside my bubble.
And it’s bigger, so much bigger, so much more wild and complex and beautiful than the entire world of so many Americans.