I have been struck by the events of the past few weeks in a way that differs from past observations of society’s uneven treatment of our children. Then, last night I heard an educator comment that modern society views some children as being merely a ‘problem’. Once that occurs, dehumanization can be rationalized. If people simply become ‘problems’ as defined by society as a whole (through continual promotion of certain notions that support this labeling) –not just having problems as most everyone does –, their correction, punishment and even elimination can be legitimized – isn’t that what history has shown us?
This morning, I saw the disturbing article below. While its view may be extreme and the facts assembled into a somewhat strained opinion, it is worth considering.
Have we substantially unraveled the progress made since the Enlightenment? To quote from the above author:
“Marginalized youth, workers, artists and others are raising serious questions about the violence of inequality and the social order that legitimates it.”
Many thoughts have converged this past month, including my impressions from the haunting book by Gerda Weissman Klein (All But My Life), and the HBO documentary about Mrs. Klein, a holocaust survivor. As I read her riveting story, I had the uneasy feeling that we are living in times reminiscent of the run-up to WWII that she described from her once blissful vantage point of pre-war Poland.
When we stereotype people, put them in a category, we depersonalize them. What benefit do we derive from this? What economic advantage for humanity at large? Or is this of monetary profit to only a few narrow interest groups?
It starts by considering people as ‘other than…’, ‘not like us…’, then leads to seeing them only from that collective perspective and finally not only marginalizing them but isolating and then locking them away. It starts with ignorance and fear, progresses to anger and ends in, well, concentration camps. Only, today, we call them prisons, increasingly privatized and under-regulated. Is that civilization in the 21st century?
What happened to the sense of community responsibility for raising, literally, children to adulthood as a moral commitment, the democracy mandate, the recognition that we all rise when every single member of society is incentivized and given the tools to become productive and feel useful, appreciated, seen as an individual and kept safe from unreasonable harm?
We have a pernicious drop-out phenomenon in this country that continues unabated, yet we cast certain groups in a light that diminishes them in the eyes of the populace, but even worse, reduces their value in their own eyes. All this while our nation slips behind third world countries in STEM skills.
This is certainly first and foremost a parental guidance issue and we have people who take little interest in educating themselves as to proper child rearing based on the science of human development.
But, it is also an education system concern. Instead of gutting the public school system and degrading teachers, we need to do what Denmark, South Korea and Singapore do: treat educators as professionals on a par with attorneys and physicians, and pay them accordingly. Then have them in turn provide counseling and solid data to parents to elevate a child’s self-esteem, setting the bar at the right level for each individual child and then providing him or her with the tools to attain and surpass that bar.
Meanwhile, this trajectory is troubling in itself. Labeling anyone as a ‘problem’ is retrogressive and demoralizing. How do we expect to continue to be a forward-thinking society when we allow this insidious trend to continue, stealthily, and unchallenged? And just imagine what it is like to live your entire life under the shadow of a presumption of wrong-ness that you did not earn and from which you may never divest.
My primary aim in life has been to think through, long, hard and independently, for myself, issues of this complex nature and not to succumb to the influence, however overt or occult, of others who seek to manipulate me for any end beyond those I choose myself. Viewing the world through the harsh lens of reality, unfiltered, is almost impossible but it is the only way to real freedom and human responsibility at the highest levels. Again, this is where awareness and consciousness play a vital role. More on that, to come.
When I decided to start this blog, I thought about why I felt I needed another place to share my ideas and thoughts, when I have already done so on FB, Twitter, Tumblr as well as websites I have created along the way.
It boils down to: having a place to express considered opinions without stepping into the combat zone that seems to exist so many places these days.
So with that in mind, haters –you know or should know who you are — are not welcome here. Ideas, formulated reactions, thoughtful and constructive comments are.
When I refer to tolerance I am not suggesting that anything goes, everything is cool, if it feels good, do it. Not at all. I draw the line on lots of things. For example, I am a fierce child and animal advocate. I cut no slack to anyone who abuses either.
There are other moral issues on which I have a strong opinion and, I guess one would say, I am not particularly open-minded, like selfishness, violence, pornography – there will be more obvious examples as I continue posting.
But, for the most part I believe in compassion, sympathy, empathy, flexibility and understanding of what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. This is a big world and 7 billion other people have experiences that I cannot judge a priori. So, while I draw the line in certain areas, in most things I try to keep an open mind, be patient, and listen.
However, I do want to emphasize consciousness. If we have one purpose in life, if there is a goal that we can strive for that once attained should make the rest of life worthwhile, it is to wake up. Many people will know immediately to what I am referring. For anyone for whom this is unclear, I plan to talk about it as time goes on and where/when it is pertinent.
This is the background against which everything I will be writing about should be considered.
If you are a reasonable person who thinks before you speak, and who wants to share not react, vent, dump or attack, we will likely be able to establish common ground and I welcome you.
Anyone else, I don’t think so.
Well, here I am with yet another place to share. It seems I have been posting for a hundred years, all over. But, I finally decided I needed a spot of my own where I can voice my unvarnished opinions and observations.
Just preparing you :-).
So, stay tuned.