Good Community, Good Work, Value-Based Education vs Originalism

Good community depends on good work.  How do we make our work good?  And make it serve the common good?   (And therefore community whose very name comes from the words to share a common task, that is to say, to share a common work). 

Ethan Hawke sharing the importance of giving yourself permission to be creative on TED. Originally posted to the TED YouTube Channel.

Dorothy Day once summarized her life’s work as her wanting to create a society “where it is easier to be good.” 

I want to create a society where it is easier to render our work good and serving the common good, not just the individual’s gain.  Clearly our professions still suffer from failing to serve the common good.  And this is primarily because our “education” or training for work so often lacks a system of values.  Indeed, much of American education banishes values because it is overly beholden to the rational.   This is why Einstein confessed to “abhorring” American education–because it made no room for intuition which he felt is the basis of values.  Not intellect, but intuition is where values are born and nourished according to Einstein.

Dorothy Day with the dress she wore during her last time in jail, signed by the other women with who she was held. Photo by Jack Payden-Travers, on Flickr.

Peter Gabel, a lawyer with a conscience and consciousness, opines on the values that exist and do not exist in the original American constitution.*   

While the 18th century world view reflected in the “original public meaning” of the Constitution did help to advance human consciousness by putting forward a vision of human community that affirmed and protected the liberty of the individual from overt group coercion through government action (with the horrific exception of slavery itself), that world view utterly lacked a commitment to fostering a world based upon empathy and compassion….care for one another and for the Earth. 

Eighteenth century values were, well, 18th century values.  And they were revolutionary in their day (though not when it came to slavery).  But giant steps forward that have been accomplished since—abolitionism, labor and civil rights and women’s and LGBTQ and the environmental movements

have all carried within them an elevation of collective consciousness calling upon one another to truly see one another and fundamentally embrace each other’s common humanity as well as the sacredness of the natural world.

Neil Hawkes talks about specific aspects of Values-based Education. Originally posted to YouTube by Nigel Cohen.

Together, they have moved beyond the constitution as we know it. 

Contrary to the original meaning of the Constitution, these movements have not been fundamentally about extending individual liberty in an individualistic, monadic world, but rather about recognizing, affirming, and embracing each other’s humanity and our interrelatedness as social beings.

Pressure from thoughtful citizens and movements have in turn influenced judges to respond to

the demands of rising social justice movements to extend the meaning of existing Constitutional provisions like the First and Fourteenth Amendments far beyond long-surpassed  original and outdated meanings.

Yes, this is “progress” and this is evolution and it is abhorrent to me that petty bureaucratic legal minds can hide inside their 240 year old tomes, call it by a fancy name, “originalism,” and pronounce that efforts to deal with 21st century issues don’t “fit” into the founding fathers’ visions. 

Shame on 21st century law schools that preach such immoral insipidness.

*The article we are dialoging with can be found HERE

See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work; Matthew Fox,

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, pp. 327-362.

Banner Image: Malaysian students celebrate their graduation at sunset. Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you see “embracing each other’s humanity” as spiritual and social progress?  Is education dedicated to that effort?  How can we assure such values reign in preference to hate and trips of domination over others?

Recommended Reading

Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science 
by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

Natural Grace, a 208 page inspired dialogue between theologian Matthew Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake, unites wisdom and knowledge from unconventional angles. Considering themselves heretics in their own fields, Matthew and Rupert engage the conversation from postmodern and post-postmodern perspectives, deconstructing both religion and science—while setting the foundation for a new emerging worldview. Having outgrown the paradigms in which they were raised, both Fox and Sheldrake see it as part of their life missions to share the natural synthesis of spirituality and science rooted in a paradigm of evolutionary cosmology.

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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