This is it. The end. I’m not going to be around anymore to nag you about low birth rates, shrinking populations out west, and the inevitability of change and its costs and responsibilities.
No more scoffing at ridiculous claims about the sanctity of free enterprise without government interference while watching lobbyists, entrepreneurs, and local boosters line up every year in Topeka to get the Legislature to expand, maintain, or create another avenue for private benefit at public expense.
Instead, I want to tell you about the good impressions Kansas has made on me in my 20 years of living and working here.
First and foremost, it has been my great privilege to personally interact with some remarkably fine people. Many of them have been public figures, and those people have reinforced in me the belief that the crudeness, vitriol, and visceral animosity expressed by so many of the sensation-mongering, babble-first and feel no remorse faces and voices that dominate our public sphere are of no importance.
Pay attention to the people who go about their work with seriousness, good will and knowledge. Ignore the loudmouths, me-firsters, fear-thy neighbor and us-against-them nitwits who are always available to distract and incite.
And your sons and daughters are great. I’ve taught 20 years at a small, public institution that continues its existence in the Kansas soil of its founding over 150 years ago. The greatest share of the kids I’ve taught have been products of the local K-12 educational systems.
There are not a lot of class valedictorians, or National Merit Scholars, or kids “born with a silver spoon” in their mouths. We get more of those three types than most people know, but by-and-large we get the kids who hoped they’d go to college rather than knew it all their young lives.
Having seen most of them accomplish great things in this transitional period of college life, I have great confidence. Good luck to you all.
Dr. Mark Peterson has taught political science at the college level in Topeka. He is retiring and this is his final column.