Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Palpable Anguish?


First Columbia School of Law, now Harvard.

The cream of America’s academic crop have demanded dispensation from their upcoming exams due to, among other things, the “palpable anguish” looming over their campuses as a result of the national crisis brought on by the Ferguson and Garner verdicts. In a letter to the Dean of Harvard Law, the “traumatized” and “visibly distressed” students reasoned that it was far more important for them to “stand for justice rather than sit for final exams.” Apparently, Ivy League law students feel that their obligation to do their school work ends whenever the American Justice system disappoints them. When did our nation’s future lawyers become such delicate flowers?  How would you like to be represented by a lawyer unable to rally himself out of his “palpable anguish” at being overruled by a judge?

As a public service, I would like to describe what real “palpable anguish” looks like outside the cloistered ivory towers of academia.

Palpable anguish is what Harvard students felt every day during the Civil War when their fathers, uncles and brothers were being slaughtered on battlefields from Shiloh to Antietam, the future of the country hanging in the balance. The only time classes were cancelled at Harvard was when the school ran out of students.

Palpable anguish was what my Father’s generation felt the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked plunging this nation into an existential fight for its very survival. The only college students who were allowed to skip their exams were the ones who either enlisted or were drafted into the fight.

Palpable anguish was what every member of the armed forces felt when the twin towers came down and they were swept up in the endless war on terror. Despite their “trauma” and being “visibly distressed” they showed up for work.

Palpable anguish is what parents feel when their child is given a cancer diagnosis. Real life gives them no dispensation from having to work even longer hours to pay the bills. Real life doesn’t allow them a month to contemplate the flaws of our healthcare system. They show up at work and soldier on because that’s what adults do.

Palpable anguish is what I feel when I read about a collection of pampered, and privileged Ivy Leaguers making demands of their schools that previous generations of Americans would never have made. Such trauma! Such anguish! How can they possibly be expected to take an exam when a couple of white cops just got acquitted for killing a couple of black men? Oh, the humanity!!

Here’s a news flash for the delicate flowers of Harvard Law. This world is a very disappointing place at times. And yes, the American justice system is sometimes unjust. Crap happens. And sometimes the crap that happens makes you angry. But, disillusioned or not, you still have to show up for work the next day. You buck yourself up, screw on a happy face and go about your business. The real world doesn’t stop to give you time to sort through your angst, to process your feelings.
Get over yourselves!