Rep. William J. Pascrell
Dear Mr. Pascrell:
Before you were the Honorable (D, NJ),
back when you taught history and psychology
at Paramus High, you were one of the foundrymen
who melted down our formless minds and gave them
rough shape. Detail and polish were up to us.
You told a story, about leaving for the prom,
your father said, “Be careful.” Eventually,
I think, I got the point. Did any of us
understand? Later I decided we were not
meant to understand, not then, but to
ponder and find our own meanings.
It was a rare peek into the personal.
one that other teachers never granted us.
And what was a social studies teacher doing
as one of the advisors to the high school
literary magazine? Something else to mull.
Changing the world, one student at a time,
must have seemed too slow. We needed
a good example, so you made yourself one.
But how different, really, is governing
from running a classroom? So much
patient explanation, filing down rough edges
for the easier acceptance of complex machineries,
so much talking to people who won’t listen.
And the greatest failure is surrendering the effort.