As I walked to my local coffeeshop this morning, I saw a daytime moon and snapped this photo with my phone. The sun was, at the same time, very bright—you can see the blueness of the sky, a crisp blue that we only get in the North Carolina after the summer’s humidity has been whisked away by cold.
I’ve lived in NC off and on for most of my life, and I love it here. I’ve lived in Durham/Chapel Hill off and on since 2000—nearly 15 years now—and I really love it here in particular. I met my husband here, and we’re raising our kids here. If I weren’t completely unsure about Western religion I would completely buy into the “Southern Part of Heaven” thing they say around here when bragging about how beautiful things are.
Back to this morning’s daytime moon.
The sun and the moon being brightly visible in the sky at the same time made me think about the ability to feel two ways about a thing at the same time. It’s a thing that happens, and it’s not crazy. Keats called it negative capability. Cornel West describes it like this:
The ability to contemplate the world without the desire to try & reconcile contradictory aspects or fit it into closed & rational systems.
— Cornel West (@CornelWest) June 21, 2011
You could just called this “being open-minded,” but that’s too simple.
Here’s the point, today: I love Chapel Hill. I love The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m a light-blue-blooded Tar Heel. I’m ashamed and horrified by the academic/athletic scandal going on right now. I’m also bummed out by how the university is corporatizing its administration and adjuctifying its faculty (including me).
I can feel both ways at the same time: love, and bummed out. It’s a thing that is possible.
My husband and I are both lifetime alumni association members of UNC. We are season ticket holders. We take our kids to play on the quads and tell them stories about the old buildings. We’re proud to have attended school here. I’d be proud to have my kids attend school here.
So here’s my question for you, my readers, and for all of us who write higher ed journalism:
Why on Earth would I take time to critique higher education if I didn’t care so much about making it better for everyone? For students—first and foremost—and for faculty, staff, and everyone who is a part of this extremely valuable public good?
I wouldn’t. That right there is my mission. I want to make things better. If some dirty secrets get aired, you know what that guy in robes said about daylight and disinfectants. I’m doing the best I can with that mission in mind. I hope you are, too.