Shades of the Veil
Black and White
“The glass is either half full or half empty,” said the instructor as she casually roamed around the front of the classroom. Students quickly jot down the analogy into their notebook.
Excellent. Now we have a line in the sand. You are either a winner or a loser, no in between. I mean, how could there be?
Aren’t all things black and white?
Then suddenly, a student rises from her seat, “Why can’t it be both?"
Please help me understand.
She begins, “What is the glass symbolizing? What exactly would the water be representing and why do you want me to view it as one or the other?”
“It’s not personal,” suggested the instructor, “That is just the way it is.”
But some could be good people
The instructor continues her lecture, “What is the meaning of life to you?” She patiently waits for a response, then adds, “If you could have anything in the world what would it be?”
A student shouts from the back of the classroom, “Fame!” Another, “Wealth!”
Similar responses fill the room.
The same student who spoke up earlier softly, but firmly, says, “The ability to learn. I would ask for passion, eagerness, and courage. Passion will keep me interested, eagerness will provide the fuel to see me through, and courage to help shield me at all times.”
Curious at her comment, the instructor asks, “What inspires you to say such things?”
The student replies, “I’m inspired by the characters from all the books I’ve read, the stories I've heard about, the dreams I've been able to imagine.”
This student knew she would not be who she was if it wasn't for education and her eagerness to learn. In her eyes, fame, wealth, and recognition may seem visibly appealing to the eye, but over time unsatisfying.
Through education we get a chance to be who we want to be, to learn, to grow—in this student’s case, to soar.
The instructor nods her head. "Very well. Now tell me, what does flourish mean to you?"
She ponders the question,
"It means I can fly. I can soar through the waters of hope,
through the skies of my imagination."
The class remains silent.
This student wanted so badly to change her destiny, to change the life that society expected an immigrant child stemming from a poor single family household would have.
Maybe we aren't so different
This was her time. She owed it to herself, she thought.
Why did she grow up in poverty?
Why did her mother have to work double shiftsevery night?
What made her so different?
It’s now or never.
She needed to finish what she started.
She rose from her seat one last time, not out of pride or anger, but to prove that she was no longer powerless over her life.
She took a deep breath.
"Let us see differences as colors. My culture, heritage, and ethnicity are simply different shades. Like colors, we too can come together to create a beautiful picture by mixing and complementing one another. Before we start painting, though, we need to decide what colors we want to use. Because in the end, isn’t that what we are—an artist with a brush and a painting?”
She sat back down.
I am now free.