O Oracle,

I heard that at community visioning event, there were people who voted against the idea of setting a community goal of 100% high school graduation rate. What words would you have offered to those in the room?

Dear disillusioned visioners,

It’s hard for me to believe that someone would support even one young person in our community being allowed to fall away from a potential positive future. It’s not often that as the Oracle I am able to put on my day job hat, which is as the Director of Donor Relations at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties. We serve all youth, but especially those who need us most, in a model that collects best practices from over a hundred years of operating all over this country.

We know, especially us millennials saddled with student loans, that a four-year university may not be the best, most supportive path for everyone. At Boys & Girls Clubs, we support teens who graduate from our programs to enter whatever future they want, whether that be college, trade school, or directly into the workforce. But we do emphasize a 100% graduation rate. Lacking a high school degree can set one back so fiercely in a world where it’s hard even for some of the more privileged of us to keep up.

In response to this willingness to allow young people to falter, I’ve pulled this card:

androgyne of honey

love is the storm & the sanctuary. the hail &
the heat of a lantern. the ceiling & the beat of
the rain beginning a song. fire stoked from a
hurricane. without downpour, the androgyne
would not have found shelter, to strike a spark
the wounded will ignite.

It is better for us as a community that our neighbors, employees, clients, and so on are educated, but also the self confidence that comes from emerging against the odds for someone struggling in education is a boon to us all. Love is the sanctuary. How might it also be the storm? I imagine everyone in that room loves someone or something fiercely. I imagine they couldn’t bear their own child being denied the basic entry into a fruitful life. We owe our children shelter. They will be the spark for the future. We are not leaving them much of a world and they are angry, wounded, and furious with us. We can at the very least give them this.

rituals & rites

seek silence in the temple of gilled beings. silent
symphony of kinetic energy playing over the mouth
organ of the ocean floor. pray to be as beautifully
proportioned as a dolphin. speech swimming as
effortlessly as sonar. smooth barrier of skin sliding
against everything that wants to enter. eliminate
resistance as you move through this world.

As a practice, be a dolphin. Can you imagine a more frictionless world? Can you bring yourself to envision something better than we had? Isn’t that the job of the generation, to leave our babies better off?

We have failed. As a 35-year-old millennial, I include myself in this score, despite having strived my entire adult (and teenage) life to leave a net positive impact on the world. I have been reading quite a lot about the divide between baby boomers and millennials. We know the memes. We know that this generational bickering has been going on for centuries. And yet we are the generation that experienced downward class mobility. We have half the wealth that Gen Xers had at our age, and less than 15% of what baby boomers had when they were us. Tri-Cities is a place where I experience this less than other places in the world, but young people are not buying homes, having children, getting married. Those things aren’t really possible for most of us to whom it was promised as our birthright. We’ve trashed the earth. Small solutions won’t work but we’re still fighting about the basics, like whether children at the border deserve loving care or whether we should strive for a 100% graduation rate.

I love this community, but this is one of the most disappointing things I’ve ever heard. I would hope that everyone on all the multiple sides of the aisle could get behind this one. I suggest that if anyone reading this does not believe that all kids should be supported to graduate from high school, that you go to the river, seek silence in the temple of gilled beings, and ask for guidance.