Friday, January 6, 2017

Sudbury as a Metaphor for America and Learning to Trust

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." - John F. Kennedy

Welcome, fellow humans, to the year 2017. This is, again, a reminder that social constructs are merely facades of barriers, and if you have a desire to break one down, the only thing stopping you is your own hesitancy.

I am afraid of starting a Sudbury school. It's a fear I keep not in the foreground of daily life, but one continuously simmering on the back burner of my mind.

It's akin to the fear I have of having children.

I know that once I birth this thing, it will no longer be in my control. I will have the illusion of control over it, but it, itself, will be its own, autonomous being. Making my way slowly through the books by Sudbury Valley Press reminds me of that over and over.

To create a platform for the democratic process to exist is to acknowledge the relinquishing of control, giving it, a gift, to the people. At times, that will hurt. It will seem as though it is destroying itself, this thing that was created with such great effort and sacrifice. The people will convince themselves to go in a direction entirely antithetical to what I believe to be right, and there will be no way for me to prevent it from happening. There will be nothing for me to do besides trust. Trust in the system. Trust in humanity.

How apt it is that I'm writing this at the dawn of 2017 when the American people at large are struggling with the same thing.

A friend and I once had the most open-minded discussion of politics I have ever experienced. We realized, together, that he is a libertarian because he trusts humanity, while I am a socialist because I think humanity needs to be protected from itself. It was an eye-opening realization, one I haven't known what to do with since. I felt guilty upon realizing it and tried to take it back at once, but I knew I never could. It was a truth I had learned about myself. It was a truth about myself that I disliked.

I want to be more trusting. I want to trust that there exists enough kindness and love in humanity to overcome the hatred, anger, and fear that keeps presenting itself throughout the world. It will be an ongoing struggle, one that I may fight my entire life. But every time I succeed in this way of thinking is a victory, and it will get easier, one small victory at a time.

I must trust in the children, the future of our planet.

(That is, at least, easier than trusting adults, those who have learned to lie and cheat and think only for themselves. Wait. There I go again. Breathe. Let it go. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Good. Continue.)

When I came back from my first visit to a Sudbury school, I told Joanna that the concept most concerning to me was Judicial Committee. In brief, because it's not my current goal to explain it in its entirety, the students agree on certain rules. If someone (adult or child) breaks a rule, it gets written up as a complaint to a jury of peers who investigate the matter and determine what should be done about it. I told Joanna that I could see it easily being something that I try to enact while everyone else rolls their eyes. Something that I, alone, fight for. Something like nearly everything in the classroom I attempted while I taught high school.

"Then drop it," Joanna replied. If it gets to that point, we don't do it. It is only for them, after all. When they complain that someone keeps doing something they don't like, we remind them that we had a process for what to do when rules were broken. Ask them if they want help setting that system up again or if they want to create something entirely new.

Trust. Trust in the system. Trust in humanity.