Reflections on Madness

Jake Stewart, Columnist

Here we are, folks. Over the halfway mark. Midterms always marks an odd shift in the semester. For the first eight weeks, life is chaotic, but the motivation of the students and professors is strong. Yet, the same cannot be said in this second half. The days are growing shorter, the clocks seem to be ticking just a bit faster, and the motivation once encountered is nothing more than a memory.

Sure, it’s not the same bitter slog as the dead of winter, struggling to get from January into March—February has got to be the worst month of the year. Yes, it’s the shortest one on the calendar, but each day feels doubled, escape being nothing more than a distant dream in those freezing weeks—but the last half of the fall semesters always has a depressing weight that is carried each day. People you’ve gotten to know are beginning to fade, students who brought a sense of purpose to class nothing more than walking memories.

Perhaps this is just an adjunct professor being slightly overdramatic, but over these three and a half years that I’ve been teaching at Wayne State, I’ve had the chance to teach some truly remarkable students. Some were true masters of the academic essay. Others were amazing artists, able to craft powerful works of poetry and prose. There were students who never missed their chance to ask a question in class, while some waited until the end, when their peers had left the room, asking what were typically the best questions of the day.

Individuals. Separated by interests, degrees, hometowns, and even continents in some cases. Yet, they all work toward a shared purpose—graduation.

The same cannot be said with our nation’s political machine. I’ve had Composition Skills students who could get far more accomplished in a shorter amount of time than those in the House and Senate. Sure, my students are writing essays while our representatives craft legislation, but the key issue here is the fact that we’re seeing very little get done.

The nation is in a crippled state. The pandemic and our former head of state saw to that. We’re in a desperate need to rebuild, but even with the Democratic Party in the majority, we see a continued deadlock that makes the trench warfare of World War I look like a pure Blitzkrieg.

The fact that we have two Democratic members of the Senate forming a roadblock to any sense of meaningful progress is what causes such a disconnect between the people and the government. Folks can talk a big game, but once they’re on the field, it’s one timeout after another.

I’ve said it before, and I find that in this gridlock, my mind returns to the thought that the world shouldn’t be governed by politicians, but by poets. Yes, it would be a chaotic world, but it would be one of ideas, of life, of beauty and pain. Right now, it seems better than watching from the sidelines as the nation’s tires squeal and scream against the pavement without any trace of forward motion.