We are asking the question, “What does it mean to be human”? And I am proposing that the “10 C’s” of creation spirituality, a value system I created for a public school program for inner-city teenagers that takes us beyond religious language as such, might offer us a certain useful roadmap. We shall be treating these “10 C’s” in upcoming DM’s.
One of the “10 C’s that seems to be especially pertinent to us today is that called “Critical Consciousness.” There is a need to recognize lies and folly for what they are whether they are driving the media or the social media or messages from political leaders.
A man in the White House who has spoken over 20,000 lies in less than one term in office assists us to recognize the urgency of this task.
To be human is to think critically, i.e. use our faculties of discernment to double check truth and untruth. Ernest Becker, in his classic work Beyond Alienation: A Philosophy of Education for the Crisis of Democracy, comments that
to ‘know thyself’ means precisely to know what one’s nature is, and what one is striving for. And the only way to know this, we now see, is to be able to examine critically the beliefs one has learned in one’s society, and to weigh in one’s own mind whether they are applicable to one’s life and times.
He believes that education is too often uncritical; it does not train students to think and that means, among other things, to judge. Judging is after all what ethics is about—making judgments and making decisions.
Humans need practice at this. Answers cannot come from the outside in but from the inside out. That is what having a conscience means: To judge; to decide; to weigh; to be critical (from the Greek word, kritein, to judge)
In our time we don’t just need compassion; we need critical compassion–not sentimental or squishy compassion. Compassion that employs our best capacities for weighing and judging with critical mindedness.
When we fail to do this, Becker believes, the inevitable happens and “as a result, the industrial masses in fascist countries are swayed by demagogues” and
the industrial masses in capitalist countries are swayed by the uncritical commercial ideology that controls the mass media….The few sway the uncritical passions of the many.
These observations were uttered forty-five years ago before the fall of the Berlin Wall and much of communist ideology. They address the pitfalls of the “commercial mass media” who have become far more influential rather than less since they were written and since communism collapsed.
The Black Lives Matter movement is offering us a working critique of what causes much alienation in our country and world and have done so for hundreds of years and are embedded in society. Movements raise consciousness and lead to the next step which is making governmental policies of action that can lift the veil on atrocities and allow justice to happen and hope follows.
See Ernest Becker, Beyond Alienation: A Philosophy of Education for the Crisis of Democracy, p. 158.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The A.W.E. Project, pp. 126-130.
Banner Image: “Stop Lying.” Photo by Joe Flood on Flickr
Do you see the deep connection between mendacity and a failing democracy? And between truth-telling the critical thinking with its power to renew a democracy? Do you love truth and the search for truth and the ability to distinguish, by critical thinking, truth from falsehood? Do you find yourself growing in that love?
The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human
The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
“An awe-based vision of educational renewal.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.