In the face of the atrocities that grow daily at the U.S. southern border, there is confusion about what we as the public can and should be doing. When those in power blatantly abuse their power only to demonstrate cruelty and the “checks” on that power in this “democracy” fail to even be acknowledged… what is a populous to do? Where is the resistance and outrage? To be sure it is there but what is missing is the mobilization. And this is the key problem.
Teachers and students across the country are out on “summer break” but it seems as if we might have to gear up and hold summer school for the nation. The mandatory course section our nation should be enrolled in? Organizing the Outrage 101. In our profession, as demonstrated by the recent waves of strikes in different states, teachers are constantly put into positions where we have to organize our colleagues, our communities, and now our entire nation. For those of us who have grown old and tired, we need to step into the instructor role of guide on the side, allowing for our students to remind us of the youthful energy often needed in defiance, as demonstrated all throughout history with student generated movements against war, state sponsored violence and neglect.
Other professions could aide even further in a mass mobilizing of the nation’s outrage and horror against this administration’s deliberate policy decision to monstrously and callously separate young children from their parents and hold them in detention center while mocking this very policy they are complicit in.
As Naomi Klein recently reminds us in her latest documentation of what she terms the Shock Doctrine, capital organizes much more quickly than people. The film industry could mobilize a mass of wealth and fame to go down to the border and confront these atrocities, using their bully pulpit to document, bring the mass corporate media with them, etc. God knows (as do you and I) that Congress should already be down there in their entirety, having cancelled their own “summer break” demanding that this practice cease immediately. But we also know that this won’t happen.
So it looks like it is up to us, once again. Teachers and students showing the nation what it looks like for truth to be spoken to power. While they organize and demonstrate their cruelty, we should all be organizing the nationwide response. Our unions should be contacting our members and rallying the war cry, the war for nothing less than the soul of our nation, which may very well already be lost. But that is not a reason to disengage. As teachers and students we know that to engage is to define the human spirit.
I am not sure that this will happen. And so I too am lost in confusion at this moment in time. But I am quite sure that this is entirely possible. And so I will write it as if it is so. To enroll in your mandatory summer course, please spread the word to your fellow classmates, the nation.
I do not want to spend my time writing about our nation’s current leader. I feel that our first year under his presidency was dominmated by an endless cycle of comsumption of the most ridiculous, abusrd, offensive, and flat out scary stories that I and many others have read about in recent memory. This morning’s addition to this never ending stream of assaults on humanity and the earth disguised as tweets struck me in a way that I felt the need to reflect and write on.
I got the chance to catch up with an old friend, who was going to take her sons to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico this past weekend. As I was responding to her instagram post of success in the underground caves with kids, my phone was alerted of this story. I found it a sobering and sad juxtaposition of child/adult realities of our complex world.
These tensions and complexities are my trade as a history and geography teacher. It is my aim to help future generations identify and understand not only the broad themes of history covered in my classes such as power, conflict, and change but I also strive to have opportunities for students to deeply explore the details and nuances contained in everyday narratives. It is ideal when I can coax students into believing their own personal stories are worthy enough to bring into classrooms as authentic academic explorations. Yet in taking this approach to educating young people, it is often challenging to seperate the personal from the academic. Especially when national and global stories have direct implications on not only student populations that I have taught in the past… but real human beings whom I’ve developed relationships with.
Today’s episode of The Daily Podcast struck such a chord (defintely worth the 22 minute listen as it is on most days). As I drove tp work and listened, I couldn’t help but thinking of the many Salvadorian students that had an impact on me over the years, their families, and their now uncertain futures. It was upsetting to be reminded of the all too real history that I of course know and try to illuminate for student when I can in classes where America’s history and policy in Latin America presents itself as a focus. What was harder was to visualize the students whom I’ve known in my career who have been or were actively trying to be a part of MS-13 or who’s journies out of their war torn country was unimaginably terrifying and traumatic.
And although these realities have always been there… it is just slightly more demoralizing and difficult when you realize that our “leader” is purposefully disrupting people’s lives just because he can. Because he feels threatened and invulnerable all at the same time, byproducts perhaps of his sick conception of what it means to be both stable and a genius. Or perhaps this is just a newer version of what has always been a brand of American politics and culture. Either way it weighs heavily on the mind and soul.
The question for this year, and most likely for many years to come is: what to do about it? How will we sustain in the face of contiued callous attacks on humanity? One thing that continues to provide me strength is recognizing the seemingly infinite resilience of those who are under attack and continue to fight. Young people who find ways to grow despite the situations that would dictate otherwise. Though I think it is somewhat dangerous to disregard the realities and history of systemic oppression and inequality; I do think that the following tweet by Neil Degrasse Tyson is worth serious consideration… as are the commentary of responses lol.
Studying those who succeed in spite of broken childhoods might be more illuminating than studying those who don’t succeed because of them.