Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Surprise, Universe! Humanity Is Not Done Yet . . .

For the past two months my mind has been gestating something new . . . a pattern that looks a lot like a revolution in our collective outlook, revolution in its most positive sense: A fundamental change in the architecture of society. Hopeful energy seems to be spinning around the Internet, from petitions to social networking sites to changes of heart among politicians to supportive work for disaster areas.  At a level just below the daily news beats a strong humanizing impulse that is pulling us closer together, as though every new meme dropped into the zeitgeist morphs immediately into connection and then, amazingly, action.

Faster than we can imagine, every action produces an opposite and equal reaction, a scientific response that makes our new global camaraderie into something like an organism, shifting and responding, amoeba-like, to prods that we couldn't even register before.  Tyrannical dictatorships, natural disasters, unfair political practices, monopolistic corporations, ecological dangers--all of these and more are poking the body politic in highly uncomfortable ways, and getting poked back.  Who knew, when computer geniuses were talking about computers becoming faster and smarter than people, that the human brain would adapt in unforeseen ways--and operate on subliminal levels that no one has been able to explain or prove.

This is the moment when (Shazam!) Jung's collective unconscious appears to be coming alive, catapulting us a few extra steps ahead on the progression of human evolution.  And, of course, not a moment too soon, forced into revealing itself under the pressure of that much bandied about "apocalypse."  Surprise, Universe!  Humanity is not done yet . . .

Let's just look at one example, the argument about "school reform" in the U.S., and, by extension, in the rest of the world as well.  This arena is more indicative of the public mood than one would initially imagine, since schools and the way we raise and treat our children, globally, tell volumes about who we are as people and what we want our societies to become.  In fact, schools are the deep reflecting pools of the values we hold as a society.  In the U.S., this concept has immediately been grasped on a subliminal level by thousands of people across the country, without the words ever having been uttered.  Thus, and suddenly, thousands of us are spontaneously, and in hundreds of different places, saying exactly the same thing:
  • Structured, hierarchical, controlled, competitive, linear schools are no longer acceptable to society at large.
  • Narrowly conceived "standardized testing" is diametrically opposed to the kind of creative, collaborative thinking that the new millennium demands.
  • Children, teachers, parents, and communities need cooperative, entrepreneurial, engaging, innovative, and uplifting venues where we can all work together to build the future.
Human progress is moving forward despite traditional society's best efforts to reign everyone in, control what they do, and maintain the status quo--or even go backward to some imagined "golden age."  Ain't happenin', folks.  We're breaking through those barriers right now, and it is only through the SYNERGY the internet provides that this collective power is possible.  Of course, synergy is the only force strong enough to pull us through the web of inertia that has held everything in place for so long . . . .

So, want to see that happening in living color?  Here's a case in point:  In January, everywhere on the Web, we were still talking about teachers standing up for themselves and fighting back against the two-year campaign by school "reformers" and venture capitalists and even our own President to discredit schools and teachers--as though they had CAUSED the current structure of society. 

By February, a Save Our Schools campaign was underway all across the country, supported by the biggest names in humane schooling for ALL kids.  This is only the public tip of an enormous iceberg of public sentiment that says, "We won't stand for any more pointless 'testing' of our kids."  Another notable site that has spread like, well, the proverbial wildfire is End the Race to Nowhere, based on the popular film that has galvanized parent and teacher audiences across the country.  There, too, the talk is about ending the competitive testing craze and the pressure we put on kids to perform tasks that are no longer even germane to their lives.

In March, articles and blogs, as though communicating through that same unseen spider web of connecting threads, were talking actively about boycotting the testing process that is soon to be upon us as spring plays out.  In the past two weeks, we have seen a Texas school superintendent break all precedent by speaking out against "the system," kids run away from home to avoid the testing circus, and the corporate gains of the testing fad exposed.

Just the other day, either reacting to this barrage of public opinion, or finally stepping out of the clutches of his handlers, President Obama said much the same thing to an audience of students at a town hall meeting: 
“One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the President said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”
This from the President who has allowed high-stakes testing to form a cornerstone of his education agenda.  A major turnaround, emphasizing the lightning-fast progression of public thinking over only the past three months.  Apparently, once a tipping point is reached, the falling action is not only swift but exponential in its power.

The humanizing impulse at work extends far beyond the school issue, of course, and we have been watching the drama unfold daily on our internet screens.  The impulse to connect, create change, and make a difference in the world is becoming universal.  As we are seeing right before our eyes, change works in mysterious ways, and the ability of the people to merge and broadcast their interests beyond their individual realms is giving new meaning to the term "the will of the people" in this brand-new era.