Sunday, October 30, 2005

An ode to law students

Edited to add...
Warning -- in this post I am probably at my most cynical -- and my language reflects that position. There are a variety of reasons for that, all personal. While they may not excuse the tone, they may explain it -- take it or leave it... I don't care.

Now (December 2005) I am still pretty skeptical about the claims of law students and their abilities to change the world, but I probably wouldn't put it as stongly as I did below. I see that your goals are admirable, but I wonder if and when you'll actually do it. I really do hope that you aren't the sort of people I'm talking about here -- namely the ones who go into law school telling yourself that you will change the world and come out materialistic, cynical and money-grubbing. I'd be more than happy to not know anybody like that, sadly these sorts of lawyers are all around, but hopefully you'll be better than that.

Also, so you don't think I put all lawyers in the same category, the person I reference working for a non-profit below is a lawyer doing housing law. I do see the good things lawyers have done in the world --

I've thought about deleting this post many times. I decided not to at this point because, while strongly worded -- it is a picture of how I felt at the time and the only part I really didn't feel were the direct personal references. For that I am sorry, as those people probably are better people than me and would never trade their ideals for a Lexus.

In the Law Library at Mizziou…
A poem for law students

Law schools, finishing grounds for pompus asses across the state.

They come in, go out, and never really learn or see

They come in idealistic – gonna change the world, right??

Ambitious, bright eyed, “I had lunch with a US Supreme Court Justice” types --

All along using that ambition as a justification for enjoying the privilege you’ve always had.

Yea – you’ll do it – sure. You’ll change the world –

After you’ve…
• Made partner
• Had kids
• Moved to the suburbs
• Found the right cause
• Saved for college
• Paid off the student loans
• Bought the vacation home
• Earned enough so that you can “afford” it..

Let me tell you about ACTUALLY changing the world.

You see,
The world doesn’t change in big hunks.
It changes person-by-person.
Every time someone lives up to their potential,
The world gets better.

It doesn’t happen because you can afford a Lexus and a 2 bedroom place in Manhattan.

Try teaching a student who is literally hungry, both for food and for knowledge…
Give that student the ideas they need to make something of themselves.
Give them the confidence to take harder classes.
Give them the skills to succeed in those classes.
Give them the chance to get a great recommendation, a scholarship, a real path out of poverty and abuse.

Give them a hand-up, not a hand-out.
Use your brains and power to teach at a school where not everyone is as bright as you are.

Use your passion and energy to encourage them
Use your power and achievements to motivate them
Use your mind to challenge them
Use yourself as an example to pull them
Use yourself to push them to success

Those are the places they need the best minds and the brightest teachers.
Not at Stanford, Harvard or Yale
Places like po-dunk CC, under funded and un-glamorous, they need you.

Provided you mean it, when you say you want to fix injustice…

Actually work for non-profits making barely enough, after 20 years, to buy your FIRST house… and even then you need your partner’s salary teaching at a community college to do so.

After you do those things, you’ll see why your attitudes of privilege, arrogance, entitlement and elitism (yea, I can smell them on you – you can’t hide it..) are so offensive to me.

What you don’t see
That I do as I approach 40
Is that your “idealism” is false
You don’t know or see the world’s actually problems.
You can’t do that at 22.
You don’t’ even understand yourself yet
How can you understand the world?

Good luck,
Call me when you turn 40 – then you’ll be interesting to me.

(note: this was moderated after some feedback from people I respect, but my not always like... it was a bit too personal the old way)

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