Monday, November 5, 2012

In It Together

Well, it's almost here... election time. 

Some school boards have passed resolutions in support of  Prop 30.

Ours has not.  That doesn't mean it is against Prop 30.  It just means it didn't vote on a formal recommendation.

We here at the San Mateo Adult School cannot tell you how to vote.

We can tell you there will be big - very big - trigger cuts if Prop 30 does not pass.

But we cannot tell you how to vote.

And indeed, perhaps if it fails, some other way to educate Californians would emerge - public, private, good, or bad.

I don't know.

I am here to talk about something else:

Hit the "read more" link to find out what.

We are all in this together.

To think otherwise might make life more pleasant in the short run but in the long run, it never works out.

You don't see Romans running the world do you?

We Americans love our "individuality."

Me, too.

It has brought us great things.

But in our celebration of the individual, we can forget the fact the individual does not live in a vaccuum.

We live on this planet by benefit of others.

They feed us, change our diapers, care for us when we are sick.

Teach us how to say "I need" and "I want" and "I have" and "I give."

They build the roads we drive on, create the tools we use, and chart the lands we travel.

When we die, they mourn us, bury or burn us, and pass on the legacies we've left behind.

We are part of a group.

Most other cultures know that.

We Americans tend to deny that.

In my opinion, that is because not only do we fear the repression groups sometimes exert upon the individual but also because we fear admitting the needs that tie us to the group.

We need... so much.

Food, water, clean air to breathe, education, employment, safety, support, information, rejuvenation, inspiration, rescue, challenge, love.

Independence and freedom - two ideals Americans love  - are not just about the freedom and independence to go one's own way... to separate from the group... to try new things... invent new ways of being and doing... and create new forms and structures.

To stay at that point is to stay stuck in an adolescent understanding of freedom and independence.

Teenagers love freedom and independence.  They like all the freedom and independence they can get while their families support them, feed them, clothe, house, and car them.

Sound familiar?

If we as a people understand the ideals of freedom and independence only from a teenage point of view, the same thing will happen to us that happens when teenagers are given large amounts of responsibility for a large number of people:  problems. 

Because the teenage brain is not designed to be in charge of large groups.

And that's fine.

Because we don't expect teenagers to run our state or our country.  

We expect adults to.

With an adult understanding of what freedom and independence really mean.

We are free, yes.  Independent, yes.   At least to some degree.

But that freedom is not only about the freedom to be separate from the group, it is about the freedom to make choices to honor and care for the group.

We are free to decide how to care for our group, our state, our people.

We have the independence necessary to consider various ways to do that, to think outside the box, and conceive, propose and consider a variety of choices.

We are part of a group - every last one of us.

And if the group goes down... if the group fails to find a way to ensure its safety and its continuance... the individuals who are a part of it will go down, too.

Education is part of how the group keeps going.

Education - good, accessible, equitable public education - is that amazing thing which not only maintains group health but also ensures the health of the individual.

And by health, I mean the mental, emotional, physical, social, and economic health of both the group and the individual.

Why would we - the members of that group - allow that to fall apart?

What benefit is there to us in that?

To stand by and allow our wonderful public education system - once one of the best in the nation if not the best - to fall apart...

Why?!  would we do that? 
For that matter, why do so many of us willingly up give up the freedom to make a choice about such matters? 

That freedom being the right - and the opportunity - to vote.

I hope you will exercise that freedom on Tuesday, November 6th.

And I hope you will make your choices as an adult, knowing what you choose is about not just yourself.  It is about the whole group.  Remembering that how the group fares is you, too, will fare, in the long run.

It's time for us to grow up.

The United States is a fairly young country.  California is a fairly young state.

We love all that goes along with that.

We love the energy and excitement of adolescence.  We love being the new thing on the block.  We love being the challenger that wins and takes over the old forms and structures.

But our adolescence - as a nation, as a state, as a people - is over.

It is time to grow up.

We are grown ups now.
And need to act as such.

However you choose to vote regarding the propositions that are about funding public education - Propositions 30 and 38 - make that choice remembering it is your job, as an adult, to consider the needs of the group which has cared for your needs.

And now....  because I love this song... because it speaks to me and it might speak to you...  a little Dan Zanes.

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