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Leadership and Activism, Philosophical Meanderings

What lessons are we?

Save our children's future by nowviskie

Save our children's future by nowviskie

I feel utter disappointment in government this morning. The violence; the doublespeak; the hypocrisy: when did we make it okay for government to use such tools so blatantly with so little disregard for how transparently corrupted it seems?

In my privilege and complacency, I never expected to wake up to a Fahrenheit 451 re-write starring cops as garbage men whose job it is to destroy books – and whose principal mortal and tactical failing it is to use force against people and objects in vain attempts to kill ideas. (Why is it never the flying cars that come true?)

Though I take issue with superficial criticisms of the #occupy movement, I certainly believe folks should be able to protest against the protest. I get the idea of saying and doing things to provoke a response. I get the idea of a movement that includes folks willing to be arrested and beaten and folks unwilling to be arrested and beaten. We live in a complex world; we have some complex problems; some of us live in complex ways.

Therefore it becomes scary to have to deal with something so simply evident as gross fiscal, political, and physical inequity in our society without being able to retreat into ambiguity (might not be safe for work: protestor shot with a rubber bullet).

Please take this moment to look critically at schooling and teaching in our country. Don’t embrace the inequities you find; don’t retreat from them. Describe them, voice them, and make them a foundation for lasting change.

Liberation looks one way to the protesters and another way to the police.

Liberation looks one way to children and another way to public education.

We stand in need of reconciliation. We are the agents of that reconciliation. We are the line between government and children.

Do we dissolve into one side or the other? Do we become a closed border between one side and another? Do we use our place and its special privilege to accomplish something extraordinary?

If it is not that we must decide overnight and begin tomorrow; it is that we must begin deciding for ourselves who to be. We must become honest in our conflicts, faithful to our decisions, and resolved to our consequences.

It may be that we decide schools are not the best places we can build for learning.

Or it may be that we accept lower pay for delivering canned curricula.

Or it may be that we throw away the books.

I see people learning from one another all over the world.

What lessons are we?

About Chad Sansing

I teach for the users. Opinions are mine; content is ours.


7 thoughts on “What lessons are we?

  1. Chad,

    How perverse! How dreadful! How shocking!

    My worldview allows me to laugh – gallows humor, but laughter just the same.

    I find the matters you present as, How Very Expected!

    At least ‘they’ aren’t using FMJ rounds like ‘they’ did at Kent State. At least ‘they’ aren’t launching tear gas canisters into a crowd whose egress is blocked by another line of “them”.

    I think the shock you and others might experience is due to the seeming betrayal of your beliefs. I feel for all of you. I also feel for “them”, because they are dismayed that the Occupiers “made all this necessary”.

    Oh yes, it is the fault of the Occupiers…

    Herein resides a Truth. ‘Lawful’ application of physical violence rests with the powerful, and the powerful seldom give up their power unless their interests converge with those of the (relatively) powerless. The critical mass has not yet been reached.

    Once upon a time, I did not see things in this way. I was optimistic. Eventually I intellectually learned my lessons well – a toll is always extracted for nonconformity, and one would do well to avoid true individualism.

    Since when did current events become possible? Break out the old films of the Race Riots or the Viet Nam War protests. Go back in history further still – there are quite a few examples of citizens applying violence to citizens. Washington D.C. had been occupied once upon a time, and soon cleared out (an event you don’t often hear about). From what I can see, the Occupiers crossed the ethereal legal line marking “speech/speech-act/act”. I am only surprised that it has taken as long as it has for violence to be applied.

    What examples are we? Perhaps the word “we” should include all who are in front of youths, and for that matter, in front of other adults as well. I’m certain you are discomfited. I have been in a similar state most of my life – I know that ideas without action are worthless, and that action sometimes results in your getting your rear-end kicked.

    I wish you the best in navigating these difficult waters.


    Posted by Brent Snavely | November 15, 2011, 3:28 pm
    • Thanks – I’ll need those best wishes –

      I’ve been reading up about the WWI veterans’ occupation of DC – somehow my high school and I missed that.


      Posted by Chad Sansing | November 16, 2011, 7:40 am
      • I did not find out about it until the past year. I think that particular occupation might be used as a teaching tool — governmental promises, veteran soldiers, application of power, Exceutive vs. Congressional powers, posse comitatus, First Amendment, etc.

        Posted by Brent Snavely | November 16, 2011, 2:10 pm
    • I was not shocked. Four years ago, I watched law enforcement knock over strollers and beat mothers with batons all in the name of “catching illegals.” I did what I could – opening the school gates and inviting families to stream in (the Sheriff’s department could not make any arrests on school grounds) while we painted a mural about diversity.

      Posted by John T. Spencer | November 16, 2011, 10:34 am
  2. I heard from a couple of protesters that many in NYC were picking books out of their own libraries and heading down to the park to restock. There is hope and resolve there too.

    With ya,


    Posted by Kirsten | November 15, 2011, 10:25 pm
  3. Is there an address to which we can send books?

    Posted by Chad Sansing | November 16, 2011, 9:53 am

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