This morning’s Writer’s Almanac includes the story of how Anne Frank revised her diary after the Dutch government asked its citizens to take care to preserve any documents that would help inform descendants of the daily experience of the Nazi occupation.
I listen to the Almanac each morning as I make my way through the terrifically dull physical therapy exercises I do to keep my back from seizing up. I choose this timing partly because the Almanac has a habit of snapping things into perspective, so when I am annoyed and feeling sorry for myself, it is a reliable antidote. On this particular morning I was distracted by a meeting I’d had the previous day about the possibility of opening a center for self-directed learning (inspired in part by this one in Western Massachusetts) in Maine. I’m very, very excited about this possibility – the existence of such a place could provide a much-needed alternative for many struggling young people. But I am also unnerved by the criticism I know its creation will invite.
Hearing this bit about Anne Frank’s response to the call for documentation of a terrible time – this thought floated through my head: Which will be more important – a commitment to freedom, or an attachment to the comfort of staying out of range of critical fire? Which will set your course?
Easier asked than adhered to, but I know which answer I hope I’ll keep doing my best to choose.