I read in my alumni magazine today that one of my old teachers, Douglas Sturm, died on May 6.
The freshman seminar I took with Prof. Sturm modeled for me what intellectual discourse could be like. It set me on my course.
Prof. Sturm was sharp as a tack but never used his analytic skills to make things smaller. Rather, he modeled a way of inquiring into big ideas by asking careful questions, and then asking more questions. He was a brilliant teacher.
Only after I graduated did I learn that he was a committed community peace activist. That side of him did not show up directly on campus. But I would have been very glad to have him as a neighbor.
Thank you, Prof. Sturm. As with all the great teachers, you taught me more than you know.
By coincidence a couple of days ago I wrote this poem. (Remember, we are required to forgive one another’s bad poetry.)
If the death of each we knew
were stored as we do corn,
we each would have to buy a mule
and load it every morn.
Poor mule it is who in our wake
clip-clops uphill and back.
Poor mule it is who for our sake
stays hidden in its track.