Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Good Deed That Did Come Back to Me

Often times we do things, whether for good or evil, that move on beyond us. These are usually actions that we do casually without much thought. We will usually never learn the results of these actions. This about something that happened to me today, an incident I did come to find out the surprising results of my actions.

This past quarter I assigned my students Deborah Lipstadt’s History on Trial for the last class to act as a summation of everything that I was trying to teach them. (I also ask them to identify Deborah Lipstadt as bonus question on the final.) I had an old copy of the book, a discarded library copy which I had picked up at a used book store. Since we, as teachers, can ask for free desk copies of any book we assign, I asked for an extra copy of the book with the intention that I would have a copy to lend out to any student that really needed it. As a professor of mine once told us: “I would whether you ate then bought books.” The publishing company was nice enough to send me not one but two brand new copies. With three copies of the book in my possession, I decided, several weeks ago, to leave my old copy at the giveaway table on the ground floor of my building. I did this and soon enough the book disappeared. (I guess I probably should have offered it to one of my students, but this was something that I casually did simply to clear space in my room, without putting any thought to it.)

Today one of the building maintenance workers came over to me. This is man whom I talked to on occasion and was somewhat friendly with. I am not sure if he has Asperger syndrome. He certainly fits the stereotype for it; he is clearly a well read individual doing manual labor for a living. He told me that he just read a book that he found on the table. He assumed, based on the topic of the book, that it must have been something of mine and he wanted to thank me and tell me what an impression that book had made on him. That book, of course, was History on Trial. Considering the shooting at the Holocaust Museum yesterday, I believe that Dr. Lipstadt’s message certainly needs to be heard by as many people as possible.

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