Changing our Facebook profile overlays won’t be enough.
I’ve seen a whole generation of educators who have so much direct access to the most massive body of knowledge the world has ever seen and yet are so disconnected from the realities around them as a result. Folks with large followers elide the mere mention of race, religion, and gender in the context of power because, ultimately, it makes them culpable as well. I’m far from perfect, but, tomorrow, I plan on giving my students space to ask and speak, which leaves me open to not knowing the answers.
This means I’m not the expert, and I’ve learned to live with that, too.
As educators, we can’t wait until it’s OK for us to speak up and out about the domestic and international tragedies that plague our humanity. We can fabricate standards if we wish, but the underlying tension can’t be standardized. For those of us in schools, children generally look to those who they’re already learning from. But, from where I stand, hope is not enough. We must continue to push people to embrace each other’s full humanity and teach others to do likewise. Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (!) offered an eloquent point that we should heed:
Our children look to us for guidance. If we continue to pretend as if bigotry and hate don’t exist, we’re doing a disservice to our kids. If we don’t offer any lenses about the discrimination going on in our own borders and outside, we’ve lost a major part of our own humanity. If we hesitate to understand that justice and empathy are part and parcel to what we do, then these are the most imperfect times to be an educator. Our academic prowess is not enough anymore. We must help students create a better world than we as adults haven’t.
Tragedies in Paris, Baghdad, Japan, and Lebanon know no borders. Disasters are the perfect time to remind ourselves of the love and empathy we are most capable of, for we must dig deeper in times when all of humanity seems at its lowest. Peace is an active word.