The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.
Yesterday, I had a meeting with a woman who just got her Master's degree in sociology, and is about to start teaching community college. She wanted my advice on teaching. I told her I am still figuring things out, but I did have some advice. After talking about teaching, we started talking about sociology...
Me: What kind of things do you study, as a sociologist?
Sociologist: Social problems, power relationships, racism, discrimination, human trafficking. How social institutions affect peoples' lives. How they work. For my thesis, I went to South Africa and interviewed people who lived through Apartheid.
Me: That's amazing. I guess I've been doing a bit of sociology lately. I'm reading these interviews with people who lived in Fullerton during the days of the Ku Klux Klan, housing discrimination, overt racism.
Me: One problem I've encountered with studying this stuff is that it really bums me out. As a sociologist, how do you keep from getting super bummed?
Sociologist: That's a good question. In college, I would get really depressed. But what I do now is try to apply my knowledge to how I live my life, to share it with others. I just love learning. I try to be an activist too, working with non-profits and community groups.
Me: Yeah. What gives me hope, I guess, is that with understanding and positive action, change can come.
Sociologist: And we can make change in little ways, just in our local communities.
Me: I have tried to do that. Act locally. I can't fix the world, but I can help make my community a little better.
Sociologist: Exactly, that's the counter-measure to the depression.