Continuing our reflections on “What it is to be human?, we are addressing the “C” called Character. Character is about committing to values, values that count.
“Value-free” education is a ruse. Value-free education leaves people unprepared to question one’s society and its economic, racial or gender values. Value-free education takes for granted that our culture is fine as it is and needs no criticism.
This is why marching in the streets after blatant injustice is a form of “higher” education. It is higher because it is about values that matter. Black Lives Matter, the women’s movement, GBLQT movement, Extinction Rebellion—all these responses to our culture are telling us about values. Therefore, about character which is about our living out our values. First, having some; next, living them out. Like John Lewis did.
Or Sister Dorothy Stang did, who was martyred in the Amazon for standing up for the peasants and indigenous peoples and defenders of the forest versus powerful groups who want the land and forest for their own private profiteering. They hired assassins to gun her down on a dirt road in the forest. That is character. That is committing to values that matter.
Still the abuse of the rainforest continues, and at an accelerated pace. The struggle does not end; each generation has to rise to the occasion. Just as the struggle for voting rights that almost cost Lewis his life, still goes on. The “supreme” court diced the very voting rights act that Lewis almost died for.
Last DM, Ernest Becker talked about a “great abyss at the heart of modern life.” He goes on:
This is the heart of man [and woman], the heart of education, the heart of the social problem, Morality. This is also what has been smoldering underneath all discussions of what the university should be and do; although only a few have dared to say it. John Henry Newman did, and frankly called for knowledge of the true relations of things, knowledge as philosophy, knowledge for right choice.
David Korten names that right choice as a choice in favor of Earth Community with all that entails, including true democracy and an economic system that works for everyone and all creatures, not just a chosen few.
Morality is also about aesthetics and beauty. What is uglier than injustice? What is uglier than an innocent man having his life snuffed out by police officers? What is uglier than the destruction of an ancient forest, of a mothering elephant, of the mind of a youngster whose lung capacity as a baby was restricted by polluted water or air, the killing of youngsters by youngsters because despair has taken over their souls or their neighborhoods? Injustice is just plain ugly.
And justice is beautiful—isn’t that one reason we were moved by the story of John Lewis’s life? It was a beautiful life. Character does that, it makes manifest the beauty and nobility in us all.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human., 143-145.
Banner Image: “Tar Sands Protest March, St. Paul, Minnesota June 6, 2015 Thousands marched through St. Paul for this anti-tar sands event. Protesters called for the end of using tar sands oil, clean water and clean energy.” – Photo by Fibonacci Blue on Flickr
What are you deepest values that you want at this time to commit your life to? How beautiful are they? How are they deepening your character?
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.