The Gardens of Democracy

“Narratives and myth matter fundamentally.”  Eric Liu

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The Power of Community

The Power of Community cannot be overlooked. Our story around community has been corrupted through some erroneous beliefs about biology and evolution, which has created a cancerous culture.

Education researcher (and Kentucky native) Joseph Chilton Pearce has pointed out, “We have a name for cells that don’t work for the good of the whole organism. We call them ‘cancer’.” Pearce worries that a false understanding of our human role on the planet has led to tumor-like behavior on our part, rather than healthier kinds of growth.

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This is an exploration of the power of story to keep us trapped in our current mindset. Charles Eisenstein makes clear the necessity for a new story for the Western world and those cultures emulating us.

Separation is not an ultimate reality, but a human projection, an ideology, a story. As in all cultures, our defining Story of the People has two deeply related parts: a Story of Self, and a Story of the World. The first is the discrete and separate self: a bubble of psychology, a skin-encapsulated soul, a biological phenotype driven by its genes to seek reproductive self-interest, a rational actor seeking economic self-interest, a physical observer of an objective universe, a mote of consciousness in a prison of flesh. The second is the story of Ascent: that humanity, starting from a state of ignorance and powerlessness, is harnessing the forces of nature and probing the secrets of the universe, moving inexorably toward our destiny of complete mastery over, and transcendence of, nature. It is a story of the separation of the human realm from the natural, in which the former expands and the latter is turned progressively into resources, goods, property, and, ultimately, money.</blockquote

Enough of being just a “click activist”

I went to a special showing last night of Waiting for Superman shown in Sisters Chapel at Spelman College to a packed house.   Afterward a panel of change agents addressed questions raised by the movie and questions asked by the audience.  The panel members were civil rights leader Lonnie C. King, former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system of Washington, D.C., Michelle Rhee, and Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College since 2002.  They collectively can boast success in catalyzing profound change in education rights.

Sad and telling statistics were quoted.  Public policies were discussed.  Challenges were outlined.  And hopes and expectations were offered.  And the bottom line:  get involved.

Georgia’s education system is ranked 49th in the United States.   And the United States ranks 14th out of 34 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries for reading skills, 17th for science, and 25th for mathematics.  So how can politicians even consider cutting costs in education?

These are the very same politicians who keep insisting that they are focused on creating jobs and getting the American economy humming again.  Does that not require job training and an improved education system?  Or is the goal of creating future workers too long term for these short-sighted, short-term thinkers to consider?

This quarter’s profits are what matter.  And that can be achieved by other more immediate means that will appease our fellow citizens, the corporations.  According to the testimony of Bill Gates before Congress, it is now necessary to import brain power from other countries to fill the high tech needs of American corporations.  Our politicians don’t seem too concerned about allowing our borders to be porous when corporations that line their pockets with campaign money require it.  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Until now, I have been a “click activist.”  I’ll click on the button and “sign” the petition.  And that can be of help.  StudentsFirst.org successfully lobbied against Georgia’s LIFO policy of letting teachers go.  That was a petition I was happy to sign.  It is an antiquated system that rewards years worked and degrees “earned” rather than merit.  (Earned is perhaps too kind.  I’ve read and edited a number of Master’s theses coming out of the Education Department.  Many of them would have a received a C or less in my freshman composition class.)

Tomorrow I begin a new volunteer position tutoring English.  It seems our education system is allowing too many students to fall through the cracks, and they require additional help when they reach the college level.  This may be a small contribution, but at least a handful of students will know that somebody cares enough to give up a few hours of her Saturday to help them.

Get involved.  Join an organization that will allow your voice to be heard.  There is strength in numbers.  And do what you can, where you, when you can.  Enough is enough.  When high school seniors are reading at the third or fourth grade level, it’s time to do SOMETHING.

(Next it’s time to do something about the infrastructure.  The shortened version of the movie and the panel discussion lasted less than two hours.  I was crawling on the interstate to get there and get back and trapped in the poorly designed parking garage for a total of four hours.  Perhaps these civil engineers went to public schools.  And surprise!  There is no mass transit system available in Atlanta that could take me from point A to point B.)

Language Power: Thought-Vision #1 Albert Schweitzer

“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.” Albert Schweitzer

Now is the very time for man to foresee. Gestalt shifts will not occur without concerted effort. We must see together. Focus together. We must foresee collectively.

Now is the very time for man to foresee. I spent six hours at the Dept. of Labor unemployment office. That was not my government foreseeing. I spent six hours of my life tapping my foot, ringing my hands, trying to read, staying off the phone, talking to people sitting next to me for hours, avoiding talking to people sitting next to me for any length of time, calculating my bathroom breaks, no food breaks, no food, time wasted.

And I watched the State employees spend their day, watched how they earned their money.

It wasn’t focused. It wasn’t foreseeing. It wasn’t collective.

It was functional in that people were “processed,” but nothing of substance occured. Hundreds of people, dreading the time, complaining about the time, wasting the time, killing some time, and getting some relieve in that time. Afterall we are receiving government funds. But we were not receiving:

  1. training,
  2. understanding,
  3. guidance,
  4. wisdom,
  5. focus,
  6. or collective direction.

We talk about the economy (it’s the economy, stupid), but we do nothing about it.

In that six hours, training should have occured. In what form that training could have taken, I will return to in another post. However, in order to shift the economy, we must foresee. Jobs must be developed in a new economy, an eco-economy. It is the only way to forestall disaster.