Hey, friends. In light of recent events at my high school, I have been uncertain of what to say about the most influential teacher in my life. So many people have shared their stories, and mine sounds very similar to all of theirs. I’m just going to share one story out of many-the story that would eventually change who I was.
It was early on in my sophomore year, and I was in Mr. Fish’s English III class. I was offended by foul language, rule-breaking, and hard questions about my beliefs. I didn’t question authority at all.
We were learning verbs, and Mr. Fish asked us to stand up if we knew the difference between “lay” and “lie.” A few people stood. Next, he asked us to remain standing if we thought we knew how to conjugate both verbs. I was the only student left standing. He told me to go up to the board and write out the conjugations while he sat in my desk. I stood at the board, suddenly unsure of how the conjugations went exactly. I looked back at him, and he told me to just go for it. When I was still unsure, he said, “Be bold, Duke.”
I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But, I hear that voice in my head all the time. I hear it when I’m about to do something that scares me. I hear it when I’m doing something I believe in. I hear it when I’m unsure of myself, and I hear it when I need a reminder that somebody out there, who didn’t have to believe in me, decided to believe in me. Some people like to memorize Bible verses and repeat them frequently in their heads. I like to hear whatever part of Jesus lives in Greg Fish.
It’s hard to walk into a classroom for a week expecting a much needed conversation with someone who isn’t there. It’s even harder to know that he might not ever be there again. Nobody made me love to learn, love to think more than Fish. Nobody took the time to care about me quite like he did, and nobody taught me more about acceptance.
To everyone who was impacted by this incredible teacher: don’t forget to fight . Every day for the rest of your lives.
Fight apathy by deciding to feel, even when it hurts. Feel deeply, and don’t become numb.
Fight the status quo by never blindly accepting. Ask hard questions like Fish would.
Fight censorship by expressing honest emotion, finding the courage to be true to all of your feelings.
Fight self-righteousness by never thinking of anyone as “less.” Take the time to really know people.
Fight close mindedness by making a genuine effort to understand people who aren’t like you. Accept them exactly how they are, not in spite of anything about them.
Fight a lack of love with compassion, with an interest in people. Use your freedom of expression to love the people around you.
Be bold in whatever you do, and remember how proud Fish would be. Don’t give up the fight. The world needs more boldness, more love- more Fish.
All the love in the world,