I have to get ready now to go back into my classroom tomorrow morning. Although, my students are young adults I suspect their reactions to the events of this weekend will probably bear a similar weight of apprehension to that of my young children, as to what exactly this world that awaits them is.
As teachers, we have a responsibility not to shape the collective consciousness but to awaken a consciousness of the collective. I have read so many polarising arguments over the weekend as to what, why, how and whose fault. I have read very little that will really help me reflect on how I can make a difference as someone who has a voice in a classroom, as we mourn the unspeakable atrocities and killings that have become a staple of our media diet.
One of the many sensitising roles that we can have as teachers is to work to raise awareness. The awareness is essentially about ideology. Ideology, for me, is a difficult word to access, let alone use successfully. It collocates too easily with ‘religious’, it evokes complex definitions and it always seems to be represented as power and the inevitable misuse and abuse of power. Why has the world mourned Paris so publicly and so romantically this weekend when Beirut or Ankara, among many other cities for example, deserved similar ballads of international solidarity? Because it’s Paris? Not because it’s ‘Paris’ but a society that defends freedom of speech, despite its myriad of failings? Because Paris enshrines a value system based on the ideology of freedom? I really don’t know.
Considering ideology, I feel, leads us to an understanding of how badly our world is divided by its ‘isms’. Eduardo Galeano, in an interview with Democracy Now, said “We have a memory cut in pieces. And I write trying to recover our real memory, the memory of humankind, what I call the human rainbow, which is much more colourful and beautiful than the other one, the other rainbow. But the human rainbow had been mutilated by machismo, racism, militarism and a lot of other isms, who have been terribly killing our greatness, our possible greatness, our possible beauty” (he says it around the 15th minute of the link, if you’d like to hear his lovely voice saying it).
What can we do? How do we awaken a consciousness of the collective. One way maybe is to find points of alignment and use them to construct meaningful, intellectually and emotionally responsible narratives of the world around us. To tell stories that include, not separate, one human experience and another. The shifting of imbalance will only come by small deliberate movements that are full of humanity and love. We need to mourn, to hug, to love and to make the right messages out of so much senselessness. The idea of international human rights is not yet universal. Equality is not something everyone believes in or even thinks they should believe in. And humanity…I’m not sure whether it is a setting sun that we once had or a rising sun that we need to clear the overgrown path to see.
Here are three points of alignment that I will browse as I plan tomorrow’s lessons: