10/29/07

professor

professor

7:22pm Saturday, Oct 20 Edit Note Delete
Last summer I took Analysis of Argument (Comm 1020) as my final GE class. I took Analysis to get out of Math because it is and always will be my goal never to do math again. I’m on year three of no math and I was not going to let a little QB GE requirement ruin my winning streak. I actually enjoyed the class, thanks to an amazing professor named Aubrey. Aubrey had the remarkable ability to teach in such a manner that every student felt comfortable enough in her class to spill their guts on a myriad of subjects. We discussed everything from healthcare to Iraq, to whether or not the new Diet Coke with vitamins was a good thing. One day Aubrey fainted in class, which led her to explain that she had cancer, and the effects of chemotherapy often made her dizzy. At the time, she was more concerned about her students feeling uncomfortable than about her own health.Aubrey was a liberal, which was one reason I liked her, but she was also LDS, and apart from all the technical things I learned, I also learned that it is possible to be a passionate, caring, Christian as well as a politically active Liberal. She had two small children and an adorably nerdy-sounding husband. Aubrey was everything I wanted to be. I learned to respect Aubrey the day I watched her listen to “that student,” (you know, that annoying one who makes ignorant comments and spews Limbaugh-esque rhetoric) for a half hour without once loosing her cool. She never made the student feel stupid, but she continued to respectfully and powerfully assert her point of view. She did that with every difficult student, even the ones who after every lecture asked “Is this important? Is this going to be on the test?” In my entire life, I do not think I ever met someone so charitable to people clearly less intelligent than herself. (Note: I am not nearly so charitable.) In the middle of class, Aubrey held a class discussion on how everything in life is uncertain, and that effective arguing allows us feel certain about things that we have no business being certain about. She told us how because her doctors told her that her cancer was treatable, she somehow felt like she “knew” she was going to live and watch her kids grow up. She also convinced herself that she would be able to grow old with her husband.Aubrey passed away a few weeks ago. I am incredibly sad for her kids and her husband who clearly lost wonderful mother and wife. I myself feel like I am in some form of grieving Limbo. Aubrey was my professor, who I enjoyed, but never got particularly close to. But she is closer than the various great aunts and uncles whose funerals I attended as a child. Mostly, I feel as if I lost an opportunity to experience a wonderful and fleeting phenomenon. Because despite my lack of in-depth knowledge, I do know that Aubrey was a remarkable person, if only for being able to tolerate someone who actually agrees with Rush Limbaugh. PS. The following is a brief excerpt from a letter to the editor that Aubrey wrote last summer. It concerns the LDS stance on Homosexuality as well as a discussion on how to incorporate both reason and religion concerning how we treat members of the Gay and Lesbian community. Religion and reason are not at odds, and we are well served to consider each in deciding how to treat others. While the LDS religion does teach principles about relationships and families which are important to our faith, an even greater tenet of our gospel is to love one another, exercise charity, and not judge others, especially when we don't understand the particular challenges they face in day-to-day life. Applying reason to religion might recommend that we focus our interactions on these commandments that were prioritized by Jesus Christ as second only to loving God. If we are concerned with the normalization of behaviors that are harmful to society, we should begin with the tendency to say and do hurtful things and use religion, reason, or any other world-view as justification. Faith tells us to love one another. Reason tells us that human beings should be treated with dignity and compassion. Experience teaches us that when we do those things, we are rewarded with multiple opportunities to learn from one another, be a part of fulfilling relationships, and make the world a better place. Let reason and religion stand together. Let's be nice.

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