"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

28 July 2019


The tragedy of industrial schooling is made all the worse by the promise of education, the promise of drawing us out, leading us forth. As midwives attending to the births of their students, teachers carry an awesome responsibility with correspondingly awesome possibilities. Education, if it is to be worthy of its true meaning, can, should, and must be at the forefront of resistance to the routine dehumanization of our whole industrialized mass culture. That is possible. I have done it. So have others. But it is rare. Too many teachers, like too many students, too many workers at too many war manufacturing plants, too many writers, too many politicians, too many people who could be human beings but who have been trained by their schooling and by their work and by their pursuit of money and their pursuit of acceptance and by their very real fear of being who they are step away from this responsibility, and in so doing lead themselves and those around them ever farther from their hearts, and lead us all ever closer to the personal and planetary annihilation that is the looming end point of industrial civilization.

If one of the most unforgivable sins is to lead people away from themselves, we must not forgive the processes of industrial education.

There is, however, an alternative. Or rather, there are as many alternatives as there are people, and most especially as there are people engaged in active, thoughtful relationships with their communities, which includes their living landbases, the land where they live, the land that supports and nourishes them.

I’ve heard it said that within our deathly culture, the most revolutionary thing anyone can do is follow one’s heart. I would add that once you’ve begun to do that—to follow your own heart—the most moral and revolutionary thing you can do is help others find their hearts, to find themselves. It’s much easier than it seems.

Time is short. It’s short for our planet—the planet that is our home—that is being killed while we stand by. And it is even shorter for all of those students whose lives are slipping away from them with every awful tick of the clock on the classroom wall.

There is much work to be done. What are you waiting for? It’s time to begin.

Derrick Jensen, from Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution

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