Parents and our local schools have a profound moral and spiritual responsibility of educating our children. Our national way of life reflected in politics, the media, colleges, entertainment, sports and religion share this responsibility, and we in the Asheville area need to accept this responsibility in our small part of the world.
The education of our children is paramount. Parents can’t change the world but can act locally in calling for changes in our schools. I retired from teaching in 1996, and today I’m reading about the same problems and political rhetoric as I did in my 29 years of teaching. In fact, I retired early because of the bureaucratic struggling for control in our system. In many ways, it’s still with us.
Dedicated teachers are truly child-centered. And there are programs in schools across the country that strive in creative, meaningful ways. There is a force in the universe — call it God or Spirituality or whatever you like — a force toward truth and justice reflecting the energy of love. This force reflects a sacred participation that will help us if we are patient, steady and humble. We must never, ever give up! No one escapes responsibility.
Teachers need parents who ask, “What is my child curious about?” — not how did he/she do on the test. And teachers should ask parents, “What is your child curious about?” Schools are not waiting rooms for our youths, but an active development of what it is to be human on a global scale.
Parents, teachers and all concerned citizens, challenge yourselves! Today’s schooling prepares our youths for competing and fitting into the American way of life that is dysfunctional, a broken system putting profits and wealth before people. All this, while mouthing family values and spending outrageous money on wars instead of adequately funding our public schools. All of us are responsible to ensure that our youths develop the knowledge, strength, hope and courage to find their place in life.
And our youths are up to it. It’s evident in extracurricular activities such as drama, debate teams, journaling, collaborative learning, community service akin to an apprentice mode of learning geared to engage students. Recent polls of millions of students show 75% of fifth graders feel engaged while 32% of 11th graders feel engaged.
Despite our flawed democratic and economic system, our species continues the evolutionary longing for unity and freedom through compassion, love and forgiveness. Democracy is a nonviolent process in the political world that is not perfect, but the trend moves forward, taking what is best of the past that is life-giving and opens to new teachings to pass on to our children.
History has been and is now continually graced with people who somehow learned to act beyond and outside their self-interest and for the good of the world. I call this “sacred activism” — a “blessed unrest”: a force in the universe that many call the God mystery, the source of all things. Activists, believers and nonbelievers alike represent all the great religions, motivated from an inner sense that we are all one. Asheville’s uniqueness mirrors this in various ways. Along with the countless unrecognized activists, our local activists continue their efforts to inform the public on issues of peace and justice. Parents and teachers need our active support in guiding our youth.
I have been concerned over the years with the military industrial complex, but I now see that our way of life includes the educational industrial complex, media industrial complex and the recent scandal in the college admission industrial complex; everything tied into the capitalistic system and an individualistic way of life that has overwhelmed and corrupted our democratic system.
“Oh God, we have gained the whole world of wealth and military power; yet we are troubled, lost and insecure. Please help us to find the way to our longing for peace and justice with the energy of love that can heal us.”
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— Ed Sacco