Is Education the Solution?

I’ve been weeping. Seriously, my eyes are like a sprinkler system for my face. I’ve been well-watered like a manicured lawn, (hopefully I don’t start sprouting grass). It’s all this violence, all this hate, you know? All those giant vats of fear people carry around and struggle to keep upright have flipped right the fuck over and the putrid, sticky contents are flooding the streets.

I’ve been reading about the protests in Portland, OR that have turned violent. I love Portland. I spent years in that city. Violence has never been the image that comes to my mind when I consider Portland. I’ve been following news reports about children going to school with Trump signs, chanting about building a wall and white supremacy. Children! Filled with hateful fear. Fear and ignorance passed down from generation to generation.

Our country is terribly divided. And both side are filled with fear. Both sides are threatening or committing violence. Both sides spew hate from their lips. Both sides have left me weeping for humanity.

It’s not that I don’t understand the fear. Believe me, I get it. I didn’t vote for Trump. And it wasn’t that I simply didn’t like his policies, it was that I thought his words inspired hate and division and segregation. It was that his campaign speeches reminded me of Nazi propaganda. So, I completely understand people being afraid.

BUT, I can also wrap my head around the perspective of Trump supporters. Not that I condone, or even fully grasp the urge to be racist, sexist, or prejudice in any way. It’s just that, I understand that people are angry, and broke, and have been raised in households where their parents lost jobs because the work was sent overseas, or some other bullshit that triggered the need to place blame on an entire race or culture. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s NOT right! It’s a viewpoint bred out of ignorance and fear. But, what I am saying is that the Trump campaign was designed specifically to lure in hard-working, broke, angry people who were feeling hopeless. Not all of those people are racist or sexist either. A lot of them really don’t believe that Trump is racist or sexist or actually wanting to build a wall. They managed to turn a blind eye to the unsavory remarks and focus on the promise of “making America great again” which, if you think about it, how many of us grew up hearing grandparents or parents talking about how great things used to be? His campaign was designed to get under people’s skin and take root like a noxious weed. And, unfortunately it worked. He preyed on tired, broke, and predominately undereducated people. And, what this election showed us, is that there are a lot of them.

So, what is the solution?

I grew up in a small coastal town in Washington state. I lived just up the hill from a Native American Reservation. I went to school with a lot of kids from “the rez”. It didn’t take me long to figure out that most of them had an instant aversion to me because of my white skin. I often got harassed on the school bus and at school. Eventually I made friends with most of them, but even then there was this unyielding tension and mistrust in the friendship, like my skin color would always make me an outsider.

Many of the white kids in town harassed and bullied the Native kids, and me, being a small kid with a love for fantasy books and choir, made for a pretty easy retaliation target.

I guess I could have decided to let my fears get the best of me and lump all Native Americans into a single category. Hell, it would have been easy enough considering all the John Wayne movies I was exposed to at my grandparent’s house. But, for some reason I didn’t. I saw every kid who picked on me as an individual. That individual beat me up on the bus, not that entire race of people. I don’t know why. Maybe something about how I was raised or maybe just the fact that I was a sensitive kid. Or maybe I just looked at the all the angry Native kids and all the angry white kids, (because believe me, I got bullied by plenty of white kids too), and I just saw a bunch of angry kids. Hell, eventually I was an angry kid.

Later, in my early twenties, I moved to Portland, OR and I became part of a multicultural community that practiced traditional Lakota Native American spiritualism. Although it was not the same traditions as the tribe I grew up beside, it did give me a profound respect and understanding for what Native Americans as a whole have been through. I was introduced to history that they never bothered to teach us in school. I read books written by Native Americans. I took an extensive class on Native American history at Portland Community College. I delved into the culture. And, I finally understood. I understood where all that hate and fear came from. I understood why I was bullied on the bus. It didn’t make it right. After all, I was just a kid, I didn’t murder their ancestors, commit mass genocide of entire tribes, and force the ones that remained onto reservations. But, I understood how they could feel that way. I understood.

So, what is the solution?

Because something has sparked fear and hatred in us all at one point or another. And, I don’t think that fighting fear and hatred with more fear and hatred is the solution. I’m not unfriending my friends and family member who voted for Trump. They were my friends and family before this election and my love for them is stronger than this. Hell, one of my personal goals in life is to be in unconditional love with all of humanity. UNCONDITIONAL.

So, I ask you all. Trump supporters and Hillary supporters and Burnie supporters and voters of third parties and non-voters and people of all races, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, etc. What is the solution? How can we see each other as simply people? How can we converse and negotiate and share perspectives, human being to human being in a calm, supportive, safe, compassionate way?

I personally think it has to start in our education system. I think classes on mindfulness, empathy awareness, communication, and basic human psychology need to be taken as seriously as math and science. I think that world history needs to be fully divulged in public school, because I can confirm that my history lessons in school were seriously dumbed down and often devoid of facts. Also, I didn’t learn a damn thing about our political system in school. Seriously, not a damned thing and then I’m expected to go out and vote? I mean, I took it upon myself to research and acquire a deeper understanding of how our political system works, so that I could feel confident voting. But, I think this is a real issue. My husband also reports having little to no history and absolutely no classes on political science. No wonder so many young people don’t vote. Our education system is failing. And, I’m not blaming teachers. My mom’s a teacher and I’ve known plenty of teachers who are just as frustrated with the education system as I am. Their hands are genuinely tied.

So, what is the solution? I’m genuinely interested in your input. No matter who you are or what you believe, what do you think the solutions are to these problems? Please feel free to comment below, I only ask that we keep this a hate free zone and speak with compassion and understanding. Thank you for being here.



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