Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Reverie while quibbling over Robert's Rules of Order

At least we can be reasonably sure that no one in the room is carrying a gun.

At least we can sit in a clean, well-lighted space surrounded by all the hallmarks of civilization--desks and chairs, shelves full of books, computer terminals where students sit working on research papers, and even if they just appear to be working on research papers but are actually sending snarky e-mails or shopping for ski gear or playing Candy Crush Saga, at least they're doing it quietly and maintaining order, because that's what we're all about here--order, specifically Robert's Rules of Order, which attempt to provide structure and civility to our assemblies but sometimes feel like a straitjacket, particularly when things go a bit out of whack.

It's a first-world problem, I realize, to have to spend long afternoon hours struggling to submit our messy problems to Robert's Rules of Order in a way that remains faithful to both the letter and the spirit of the law, but at least we are free to disagree about the application of certain elements of Robert's Rules of Order without worrying about being silenced or imprisoned or beaten or dragged out of our nice comfy classroom to face a pink slip or a firing squad or public disgrace and humiliation.

So while a million other tasks call out for my attention, I'll sit here engaging in gentle debate about the finer points of Robert's Rules of Order because it's a sign that our civilization is still functioning, that despite any chaos that might be crashing down around us, we still believe in order and the value of listening and the freedom to disagree.

No comments: