I have had to adopt a blank face to hate in our community and it is not easy. It has my heart pounding and my blood pressure up in the too high zone. If hate has such a powerful negative effect on my body and in my spirit as a grown person in a public school, how does it affect the children? All of the children?
I see good, kind, compassionate helpers doing that hard work of living in service to values that demonstrate how to be in love with our town, neighborhoods, state, country etc. But I have witnessed friends, mentors, and people I voted for have their safety threatened by people claiming our schools are indoctrination factories for the parts of society they want to see scapegoated and marginalized. Now, there is an effort under way to recall Jen Lima. She is a person who walks the streets and talks to nearly every person in town. She had over 9000 votes in the last election. They would recall her because she does the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of in the work of nonviolence and community organizing. She is an advocate for all students, not just some students which is what bothers this very small group of powerfully moneyed people. Jen Lima represents the hardworking every day human moving people do to the heavy community lifting that is change.
Academic freedom is under attack. Perhaps it is a sign educators are doing too good a job at helping our children understand reality that they grow up to vote against materialistic, militaristic and racist politicians. I think that in North Kingstown, democracy is at risk when people seek to recall a lawful election because their team lost.
From Dr. King’s sermon, “Rediscovering Lost Values”, he says “...we find ourselves caught in a messed-up world. The problem is with man himself and man’s soul. We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving....We’ve made the world a neighbor but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make it a brotherhood.” Dr. King extorts us to return to a value of understanding the moral law of love. Hate is wrong and understood as an absolute. He says we must also recognize the spiritual control of love in service of building an eternal legacy of peace. How can we organize for peace, reclaim our stories from those who want to silence us, and convince the other side of our worth in society? In a universe based on moral law, King says, “we have to know the simple disciplines, of being honest, and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves by misuse of our own powers”.
The constraint of cherry picking facts from a skewed history or to suspend reality hinged on moral foundations to accommodate hate, is wrong. Schools are institutions based on honesty, integrity, truth and intellectual fidelity. Educators will not be bullied. We will continue our commitment to develop critical thinking that supports students to better understand problems in our society, and to develop collective solutions to those problems. We are for truth-telling and uplifting the power of organizing and solidarity that move us toward a more just society. Dr. King, in 1954, imagined giving his life to something eternally absolute. We must strive to live in peace with one another. All the children deserve a positive peace, not just some.
Stephanie Acosta Griffin