Those of us who work in education have to, more than people in most other professions, think about the future – not just tomorrow, but years and even decades to come – the world in which our children will live their lives.
Sometimes I feel I really want to look on that future with masses of hope. To look for a future in which technological progress will have relieved many of the challenges and burdens in man’s life, provided solutions to some of the planet’s challenges and enabled a bigger proportion of humanity to strive towards self-actualization.
The Twentieth Century was undoubtedly one of many challenges. Whilst there was vast technology progress there was the undoubtedly ugly side in which man revealed in ways more stark than ever before his ability for cruelty and ‘inhumanity’ almost beyond imagining. When i was a child I was growing up in a world that was still coming to terms with the fact that after the death, destruction and disaster of the First World War man had still not been able to pull back from the brink of another massively self-destructive cataclysm.
My great grandfather told me of the excitement and thrill felt when the First was over, believing that man had looked in to the abyss and would now be wise enough to stay well away from such a precipice in the future. For his generation the shock of seeing the world ‘go there again’ was something he never really fully recovered from.
I grew up in school reading text books that indicated without much subtlety that I was born on ‘the winning side’. I learned all about the Nuremberg Trials – where ‘war criminals’ were tried and punished.
However as I became older I came to understand that my history books sold me simplified nonsense. If the outcome had been different, who would have gone on trial for dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Who would have been tried for the deliberate slaughter of thousands of civilians in Dresden through the complete destruction of that city with the most callous bombing ever known?
So, we come to realise that we still live in a world where it certainly seems the biggest prize for the victors is the right to punish the opponents whilst exonerating oneself for all inhumane acts. Today, it seems that if there is one difference, it’s that the wars are not so ‘obvious’, not so declared and out in the open. Instead many of them are fought by proxy, sometimes over decades. What doesn’t change, is the evidence that man, even when represented by the supposedly most upright governments of the world has an amazingly high propensity to excuse away the most barbaric and heinous treatment of other human beings.
Those who care or cry foul about human rights are laughed at, accused of being wishy-washy idealists, or worse, lackeys and sympathizers of ‘the other side’. The result – the vast bulk of the population puts its head down, looks the other way and thanks their lucky stars if it’s not happening directly in their lives. The truth that none of them can bear is they really have no way of knowing whose backyard it will happen in next.
I believe, as educators, we have a duty to be open with children so that they grow up with their eyes open. Gullible, blinded children grow up to be the blinded, gullible young people who can so easily be hoodwinked to hoist an AK-47, whether on the side of ‘the good guys’ or ‘the bad guys’.
Here are just a handful of articles seen this week that convince me our children’s eyes must be open:
Asia Times Article
New York Times article
Google Report on Amnesty Annual Review
Kashmir Watch Article
Filed under: Educators of tomorrow, Life, Our Environment, School | Tagged: educating children for human rights, human rights | Leave a comment »