Scrape ’em off, Save yourself: Climate Catastrophe and Education

Esso Oil on Fire, 1966

I saw this comment today on the FB regarding an Education article: “I think public education must be like climate change. It is much easier to oppose than to support.”

Hmmm…one is huge and absolutely beyond comprehension and makes no sense to so many people; how can our puny ways alter a geologic process that seems so massively beyond us as individuals. Plus, there’s nothing to be done except allow wholesale seizure of all energy use by the government and allow them to turn off the power, limit travel, etc.  This of course has to be done worldwide too. It is easy to find strong arguments against this, though.

Plus, the wealthy play the denial game by saying it’s only a “US” ploy to keep the rest of the world as pawns and not developing, which is silly of course because it’s the wealthy in the US and other Western “interests” that benefit from developing the world. But that is propaganda for you: paralyzing you with “rationality” on all sides.

The demons we must confront are personal habit and our dominance by the Masters of power and wealth.  If you think it’s hard for you to turn from demon to angel, imagine that change from billionaires who do whatever they want on this planet like it’s their elementary school playground; they’re the bully held over 2 years running, but who has the teacher and principal and superintendent all taking his side in every fight.  “Man up, second-graders!  You’ve got to fight back against that 14 year old!”

Education as a Public System is not the same as global species extinction.   But for many it has somewhat occupied a similar space in our minds as our atmosphere and climate; if not benevolent, it is a neutral thing apart.  We “do it.” We’ve “done it.” It’s just there…what’s to think about?

Thus when changes happen they are, well, just what happens and surely for our good.  We go on about our busy business as economic drones and consumers of plastic and entertainments.  No worries.

But, a flea in the ear says it must be changed to suit the global economic stage.  And the flea becomes the hue and cry of the media outlets that push corporate ideologies as a matter of course.  And the change is happening where community education will be monopolized by corporate education companies and removed from our communal hands.  But that’s the beauty–you weren’t thinking about it anyway.  I know some of you are: but on the whole we are middle class do-gooders likely concerned for our own kids and sure our worries and actions will fulfill the transitive property and trickle down and son on.  But, really, individual satisfaction will suffice if it has to.  Hear me, touch me, feel me…(you’ll note that this is self-interest, too, though to a different degree, the demon seed is in it.)

Schools are OURS.  If a corporation takes them over, Mom, Dad, you are just a consumer.  Don’t like the education your getting?  Pay for it somewhere else.  That’s going to be your option.  That’s “liberty” in America.  Pay for it or Don’t.  Free at last!

Letting education be taken over by the very ideologies and, face it, the very same PEOPLE, some of whom you know and believe they have more than personal interest in mind, is akin to letting the Koch’s take over the EPA (oh, wait, I think they’ve done that already–but you understand what should be a logical contradiction, right?), or letting a billionaire who owns a world monopoly on computer hardware create and implement national education programs that feature, you guessed it, computer hardware.  SHOCKING, right?  Self-interest is such a force for good, isn’t it?

But here’s the American mind.  Surely billionaires know what’s best.  They’re successful beyond our reckoning and that must mean they know what’s right.  Well, sure, if what’s right is making them wealthier and more powerful!  Massive Power and Wealth accumulates via family property and intense, sustained, ruthless megalomania.  But still you say, he/she/they give money to cancer hospitals and are trying to save those poor savages in Africa and bring democracy to those backward rock dwellers in the Middle East (how in the world did God come from that barrenness–there might be a clue there somewhere to monotheism).  And besides what can I do about it.  I’m a dumb-ass with no expertise

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And if you’re religious it’s just a minor shift to believe in a different set of experts; and what you believe you can do is proselytize and teach your kids that the world is young and you are slated for another world anyway so no worries about how horribly this one is failing and no worries about your selfishness, helping yourself is prized after all.

But here is where education is being attacked: it’s full of easily “demon-izable” folks–small folks, puny–teachers, easy to demonize; schools, yeah, our failures are their fault.  They must suck as they’re hardly different than you and me and there’s no reason I should think they have any idea what they’re doing–they don’t make billions and they have summers off!  It’s their lazy fault kids are stupid; that kids are rude; that kids are apathetic; that kids only care about their youtube lives; that if they do “care” it’s about those poor people in other lands who just don’t have our freedoms; that kids have sex in 6th grade (so I’m told)…

Forgetting all the while that all around us is the WHAT and HOW of what we learn as people in a particular kind of culture–economics, religion, entertainment–everything contains a kind of philosophy/ideology.  But school, as an institution STILL offers a kind of haven against popular culture and economic and political control–it still might offer an IDEA of rebellion against the ORDER.   Though the billionaires and their political and media courtiers are trying very diligently now to alter this wholesale.  Look at Florida; look at Indiana.  The times they are achangin’.  And the pump has been primed for decades making the corporate take-over a cakewalk (look that word up and see how it might be appropriate).

As regards climate…it’s these same take-over folks we are relying on to save the planet.  But not if we have been persuaded of it as a “hoax” by the fossil fuel industry which spends billions of dollars to convince you of this.  Far more than they’re spending on their lauded charitable tax write-offs.  It’s so confusing to know anything when we are such stupid gullible weak-minded pathetic vulnerable slow soft creatures.

If you can look at a piece of research and ascertain a likely motivation for it’s “results”–don’t believe it.  If you feel all research is motivated beyond discovery then you’re likely just going to choose that “science” that tells you what you want to hear–or that comes 4th hand out of the mouths of carnival barkers.  If you think research only serves a selfish capital profit motive then how exactly does global climate catastrophe create profit?  You must be wise enough to know that if alternative energy became a mandate that the Koch’s (insert any other demon) would own it too, right?

Deeper than this…Winners are often crazily ideologically willful.  Their story is the right story; their battle the holy one.  They can easily believe that global climate catastrophe is the right outcome.  Their religion likely allows this idea to be true to them.  And in one sense, their agency can make it come true.  If the world is to be set ablaze in Revelation then they will happily set it on fire (listen at theYouTube below).

And one can see and sympathize how all the fear about all other uncontrollable issues might come out as a bias against this singular and possibly dangerous public institution.  It CAN introduce a burgeoning consciousness to thought that might be antagonistic to the order of the world that has been humanly imposed.  Folks who fear their inability to affect their larger world can push their fear to create the rationalization that “helping themselves” is their primary and just responsibility (or as an arch-conservative might say, their duty): to save their kids and give them better opportunities than a “public education” would–as if the school was the “public” to fear.  Public education, in the main, has always just reproduced the social hierarchies extant in the world, and in this way it is a failure as regards an egalitarian conception of the public good.  But not for the reasons being used to dismantle it.  Oddly, as I was sneering my way through a book review about Chesterton (“The Reactionary“) by the late Christopher Hitchens, a Chesterton quote made much of this clear to me–at least from the conservative-dominance perspective.

All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are.

But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.

This seems a revealing use of color.  But perhaps fence posts in England were of a wood that “aged” to black?  I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen much other than gray.  Education reform is painting the post white (White) again.

But, I don’t think people oppose education or even really oppose what their systems are doing generally–they fear, have been encouraged to fear, being “left behind.”

It was an undeniably brilliant name for a program coming on the heels of the massive success of the Christian Rapture books, the “Left Behind” series.  It is an obvious connection.  Treating all kids in an egalitarian manner doesn’t work for those who fear being left behind.  They must save themselves and their children.

This puts me in mind of Bill Murray in his “middle period” of redemption movies.  In Scrooged his character Frank Cross (yes, cross), still not come around to his own culpability in choosing to live life in a way that creates his own despair but also propagates that despair in an exponential fashion, says to the real angel in the film, his ex-girlfriend Claire regarding her tending to the poor and desperate at a shelter and not giving Frank her full attention: “Scrape ’em off, Claire.  If you really want to save someone, save yourself.”

That is the American mind for nearly all of the population.  It is our basic understanding of “individualism” and our understanding of “Jesus-ism” (though woefully mistaken)–scrape ’em off and save yourself…and for good measure stomp down hard.  It is, as with Frank Cross, exponentially worse when that way of thinking is embodied in very powerful men, very ideologically narrow men.

Welcome to climate catastrophe; Welcome to education reform.

Scrape ’em off.  Save yourself.

photo credit: Trondheim Byarkiv

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