Things people say

From Czeslaw Milosz (via Anne Lamott): “In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.”

We’ve been pretending for a very long time that we have no choice but to proceed as always when it comes to schooling and learning.  The questions we would have to face (if we were to admit that the whole business has come entirely apart and no longer really serves kids or families or cultures or economies) are so mind-boggling that we barely even let ourselves think them, much less begin to address them out loud.  We just keep trying to make sure our kids get through the established routes and hope it turns out OK. We can’t conceive of how we’d confront what’s really happening and what it would take to bend the future in another direction, so entrenched are we in what we’ve done for so long.

A pistol shot can be very hard on the ears, even the ears of those who are looking and listening for the truth.  Keep that in mind as you go about making intentional and mindful choices for your children – choices that challenge what we as a culture go blindly about from day to day.  Others will find myriad ways to remind you not so gently that you’re out on a limb and in the minority; that they think you’re making big mistakes.  But it doesn’t mean they’re not interested in what you’re doing; in fact it means they are interested. The ones who engage with you about what you’re doing and not doing – even in not particularly pro-social ways – are the ones who are the most concerned but haven’t figured out where to find the courage and means to do something about it.  If they weren’t concerned they wouldn’t bother to bother you about it.  They may even be receiving some of what you offer by finding the courage to make the choices you make.  It’s just that it’s all very hard to hear, against a heavy background of history, habit, and fear of the unknown and uncharted.

If you imagine that their critical words are just the sound of the truth hurting their ears, it might make the exchange easier on both of you.