Who is spoiled in our family??? All of us! In actuality, we all have turns in being the king/queen/prince of “spoildom.” I, however, have recently become more aware of how spoiled I am. And to be a little less abrasive and no less true, I will use the term blessed. So, recently I have become more aware of how blessed I am, for I received a pedicure, complete with shiny red toenail polish, all at the complete approval of my loving husband. Then, when I mentioned a massage, he insisted, thus I scheduled myself a pre-natal massage, which I received today!
I realize these are complete luxuries, not necessities. I know, too, having funds to allot towards splurges is great. These things, however, are not what really knocked a sense of blessing into my life. Instead, I was awakened to my blessed life today, after my massage, while in my office.
Being part-time, I share an office. Actually, many professors share offices, even full-time tenured folks. Anyway, point being, sometimes I am alone, while others I am accompanied by colleagues. Today, the office was full when my student arrived. He, an international student from an Arabic country, entered and requested to speak outside, alone. I stepped out, asking what he needed/wanted to discuss. Turns out, he had concerns about the required oral presentation over his recent paper.
This particular student chose to write on freedom of speech, and in his document, he presented facts that did not reflect his home country positively. He was not slanderous; he was relaying facts. As he thought about his project and speaking to classmates, he felt uncomfortable, not because of the language barrier and common nervousness, but he was truly afraid of a student telling someone, anyone, about his particularly negative reflections on his home. He claimed he was fine when the information was between us, but when confronted with a large audience, he was worried. So worried, in fact, he did not even want to discuss the issue in front of my colleagues. Without asking for exceptions, he just wanted to know how dramatically his grade would be hurt if he refrained. I then asked how he felt about presenting to just me, before class, so that his “offensive” information would not be heard by many ears. He was glad for that concession, and he showed promptly at the arranged time, presenting as required.
Before he presented, however, I reflected upon my freedom of speech and how I take it for granted. If I chose, I could say disparaging things about my country, government, president, friends, family, laws, etc. anywhere, at anytime, with little negative repercussions, if any. In his country, however, he can not rebel against the powers that be. For example, as mentioned in his presentation, a government official was thrown in jail for life because he relayed his opinion in public. What atrocious thing did he say? The official declared the government should allow females to drive a car. He also conveyed a story about a 7year old girl who was given in marriage to a 30 year old man, and no one spoke against such awful and inappropriate arrangements, for fear of death. Just knowing this student spoke out in a paper to me and then worried tremendously about letting a few students know his beliefs, even with thousands of miles between his words and his home nation, goes to show how severe the issue of free speech and thought are for him.
That said, measly pedicure and massage aside, I am spoiled, blessed to have the opportunities I have, and I am eternally grateful to God for that. Even though things can be frustrating in my government and life at times, I am proud to be an American, free speech and all.