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olive trees & poetry

The Lexus and the Olive Tree

Every semester I make my students read Thomas Friedman’s book The Lexus and the Olive Tree.  Every semester they moan and groan and complain that it’s too dense, too long, and too complicated for them to understand.  But I make them read it anyway.  And every now and then, I catch moments where I can see that they get it.  They understand.

They see that the world is a big giant place that is full of people–moving, shaking, living, breathing people.  And that we’re all connected in this giant globalized web of relationships.  What I do matters; what they do matters.  It’s an exciting time that we live in.  It can also be scary.  With all of our connections, sometimes we risk losing our identities, our olive trees. One of my students recently wrote:

“The olive tree is something we sing, kill, die, and write poetry for, it is what roots us.”

I don’t think I could say it any better than she did.  She gets it.