Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Complaint, Apology, Thanks, and Farewell

Dear Berkeley,

You are quite a place. You have shaped me significantly during my time here. You have given me happiness, frustration, and much to ponder. This is a letter of complaint, apology, thanks, and farewell.

Protests, frat parties, tree sitters, midterms, and street people on Telegraph. At least I can say it was never dull. There's so much that's messed up about this city and this university. Your values, your ideals, your style - they don't appeal to me. It's hard to sum up everything 'Berkeley' represents, but the label isn't a complement. You have a warped cynicism wrapped in a veneer of idealism. You have a shallow tolerance and open-mindedness, which only extend to the fashionable few. Your fervor to change more frequently destroys than it creates. Berkeley is intelligence and emotion and energy without guiding force or direction. Often we have not gotten along, and part of me is happy to leave.

But maybe I am too quick to criticize. (That is, after all, one of the things I learned from you.) So here's my apology:  I am sorry for my high expectations, which you couldn't have possibly met. I am sorry for passing judgement on you when you were being foolish. I am sorry for not loving your unloving ways. I am sorry for my hubris, which did not allow me to tolerate your abuse. I am sorry for dismissing the cynics, critics, idiots, and conspiracy theorists, without a fair hearing. And I am sorry for not giving up on trying to change you, even though I should have known it was futile.

All jokes aside, I really must thank you, because I have grown a lot here. This university is a place of profound learning and knowledge. My professors, mentors, and colleagues have given me a tremendous body of knowledge and understanding. The myriad opportunities here, to learn, research, explore, lead, and build - are unparalleled. For all of this I will be eternally thankful. And even in the ways that one would least expect it - you have encouraged my growth. Who would have thought that in a place hostile to Judiasm I would have grown in my faith, or that in a place hostile to Israel I would have discovered my Zionism. Maybe all the pressure gave me the push I needed to look within myself. Maybe that's how you intended it all along.

And so I take my leave of this perfectly preposterous kingdom of crazies, glad to have come and glad to be going. If you remember me, remember me fondly, for so I will be remembering you.


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