Returning from the march two weeks ago, I was somewhat struck by the power of nudges.
I'd certainly never call myself an instigator, but I know that there were eight people marching in Oklahoma City who would not have been there were it not for me. Mind you, all I did was ask some people over lunch who was going and later picked a spot for us to meet. It wasn't exactly a hard sell.
About the same time, a former student mentioned how I had (positively) influenced her college experience and another claimed that I changed her career entirely when I asked a question about the food supply. Being a teacher is to be a nudger whether one knows when one is nudging or not.
I know I changed the course of the history of one small town in West Virginia when I asked The Mister if we were going to go vote in the mayoral election. The candidate we voted for won by a single vote (something like 51 to 50 to 30 in a three way race).
I used these as examples to explain (and mostly to remind myself) that little actions matter and that sometimes people are listening.
Then the news of the last weekend came in and I felt defeated. Nudging feels so ineffective when others are bludgeoning.
But even after I directly remind my students that they were valued in my class, regardless of when they or their families came to this country, I still had it in me to recoil in horror at some of their poor answers. I guess I haven't been bludgeoned out of me yet.