Yesterday’s meditation clearly established that a critique of education has to lie behind a renewal of our work worlds.
Such a critique includes a hard look at accrediting bodies and the questions they are clearly not asking and are probably ill equipped to ask because they too are graduates of what Thomas Berry has called “academic barbarism” that rules so much of the military-industrial-educational-prison complex.
All the tools in our professional toolboxes do not make up for the soul-loss that so often begins in school.
This is why much of my work over the years has been dedicated to developing models of education and pedagogy that feed the soul as well as the mind.
A certain poison can enter the soul of a young and aspiring worker if the deeper levels of our humanity are ignored. This is why Einstein said he “abhors American education.” Because it was value-less—which is another way of saying that the values of the culture are accepted hook, line and sinker.
We are seeing the acting -out of values like: Let the reptilian brain dominate. Patriarchy rules. Knowledge, not wisdom. Power-over (domination), not power-with (compassion).
Peter Gabel has been called “the conscious lawyer” for his many years of asking the deeper questions—the value and spiritual questions—about his profession.
In his most recent book* he calls for a “socio-spiritual activism” to take hold and reminds us to bring our inner work to social movements which can be vehicles for activating our prophetic goals and can serve to “liquefy” the frozen worlds around us.
He believes a radical shift is possible if we pay attention to both the inner and the outer work. His goal? That we “be here and be alive.”
Authors Douglas Ammar and Tosha pose a further question: “What got beaten out of us in the practice of law?” I add: What gets beaten out of teachers in the practice of education? Of doctors in the practice of medicine? Etc. etc.
…we are not just saving our clients from prison and from destructive lifestyles—we are saving a small part of our profession from a pernicious condition of the heart….from the effects of isolation, alienation, cynicism, and hopelessness.
The authors insist that the vision of the “Beloved Community” that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered the world was a vision much broader than individuality and the rights of individuals.
It “was an attempt to reveal the interconnected nature of humanity…to move us from our selfish and self-centered approach to life” that our culture and its professions promote by an excessive and warped emphasis on individualism.
See Peter Gabel, The Desire for Mutual Recognition—Social Movements and the Dissolution of the False Self.
See Fordham Urban Law Journal, November, 2003, pp. 53, 58f.
See Matthew Fox, Reinvention of Work, pp. 1, 58.
Banner Image: Patagonia’s yearly Tools for Grassroots Activists conference. Photo from the Patagonia company blog’s Activism category.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you find within your work world signs of “isolation, alienation, cynicism and hopelessness” as do members of the GJP project to heal the legal profession?
What work do you find, inner and outer, that heals this state of sickness?
In what way do you see King’s teaching on the Beloved Community and the return of a sense of community hold promise for renewing our work worlds?
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”