Happy (right) or Happier?

happy sad

Mama always said, “You can be happy (read as me being right) or happier!”

So many times, I was given that choice as a youth.  One time I chose to neglect my morning chores until the VERY last minute and subsequently missed the bus.  Well, happy left my life as my mother, clad in a late 1970s era LONG dress,, and I walked the 7 miles to school.  This seems quite harsh punishment for a child.  I was 7 years old.  But the lesson was learned— DO YOUR STUFF and BE HAPPIER…or goof around and be right AND WALK!!!

Over the years, I often chose happier…and sometimes forgot the LONG walk and chose happy. However, I did try to keep the happy or happier thing in mind when making a choice.

Several years later, Ms. Ella came through the office as we were enrolling Justin in Kindergarten.  She shouted out to the Principal, “Remember the story I’ve been telling you the past ever about the kid walking to school?  THIS is THAT kid.”  Other people had indeed heard the tale..and I confirmed its truth.

Segue 35 years later…At the end of my Masters program, I took comps.  Basically, I had 4 hours to answer three questions to show my knowledge of Communication.  I studied and felt ready.  I wrote for an hour over Autoethnography…NAILED IT!!!  Question 2…I wrote in MY style.  I wrote a cutesy little 6 page narrative and knew I had passed the question.

A few days later, I received word that my reply was incorrect and I would need to rewrite the answer.  I was pissed until I realized I had chosen the HAPPY option. DRATS!!!!!!!  (Mama also said, “Do it right the first time.”  Apparently I had learned neither lesson well 35 years later) I quickly apologized to the Professor for disrespecting him and set to more study.  5 days later, after studying for 20 hours per day, I rewrote a 10-ish page answer to the question in the style the professor wanted…and deserved.  I chose HAPPIER this time…and passed the question…and graduated.

Today, I read about Steve Salaita, an academic who lost a good paying job over several Anti-Israel tweets. (There are multiple sources to list, click here for the Huffington Post version).  The question posed by so many is the right to free speech as a tenured professor.  Now, I am not defending the University’s action…but Steve had choice as a public and renowned professional scholar… be happy or happier.  In my opinion, he chose happy…and is NOW unemployed.  Maybe his mama should have made him walk to school when he was seven.


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