Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Convocation.  The word, like so many, from the Latin.  Convocare, meaning to call together, one of the familiar rituals of this season of transition.

I sat with my wife and mother in law, as we watched the honors given out, one after another.  Ours is a diverse school.  It is set into a featureless suburban landscape, but the hallways are rich with colors and voices from dozens of nations.  The students, Asian and African and Middle Eastern, European and Latino, the faces in the hallways drawn from the rich palette of global humanity.

Speaker after speaker stood up, as community organizations honored students for their striving and their achievement.

The recipients, entirely reflective of the school, the rich complex flavor of the American melting pot.

Student after student took the stage, leaving with their awards, as representatives of the community praised them for their service.

A row of a dozen young men, and one young woman, honored for their commitment to serve in the armed forces after graduation.  Two young men of European descent.  The rest, Latino and Asian and African, more recent immigrants, all offering their service to our country as soldiers and marines.

Up on stage, an award that interested me, the award for writing.  The teacher presenting the award, one my graduating son respects, bearded, wry and wise, called up the winner.  She, a journalism student, came up shy and faintly embarrassed to have won, even more embarrassed as the teacher offered up praise for her subtlety with words, her diligence, her capacity.

Her expression, sheepish pleasure, beneath her pretty floral hijab.

In this moment of calling together, I could not help think of the voices outside, loud and brash and willful, calling for us to tear apart.  The voice, one in particular, that would fill the world with enemies, that in its bullying conspiratorial fabulism would make enemies of friends.

The voice of disvocare, I suppose it might be, had I taken any Latin.  The voice that tears apart.

That voice, a curse, wherever it takes root.

In this season of transition, my hope is that it does not.