'When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.'
I recently read that quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti - a philosopher I really adore, and who always seems to speak the truth (in my eyes)
And it keeps swimming back into my sub-conscious over and over again.
Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' comes to mind. The main character Pi wants to be closer to god but gets himself into a pickle with his elders by being a Hindu, Christian and Muslim simoultaneously. Big no no! They all want him to choose just one faith and be true and devoted to it, but he rejects this concept because he loves them all.
And I have the same struggle committing myself solely to any particular religion or educational philosophy or absolute stance in so many areas of my life. Nailing my colours to a mast. My colours are all the shades of the rainbow. Does it make me wishy-washy? Half-baked? Dis-loyal? It can feel uncomfortable sometimes standing between worlds.
Like Pi, I see the wisdom and folly of different religions.
I feel the same about parenting and homeschooling nowadays.
Belonging to a sungular parenting camp has also never totally sat right with me. How you feed your baby, what type of nappies you use, whether you send your child to school or not, whether you vaccinate or not are none of my business. It is not for me to judge and yet so many parents do. There is so much judgement out there in the online world and I have done it sometimes myself. (To my shame) I think we all do.
Sometimes I wonder if even just simply being a homeschooler is potentially in itself an act of war or violence, in the way Jiddu suggests? Does it create a barrier between me and my neigbour? Can it create mutual suspision, snobbery, bigotry and division? In the same way that folks divide themselves by branding, by class, by their religious beliefs, does homeschooling separate us from those who go to school? How much do you really let your children mix with others outside your own cosy belief system?
In my younger days I was so passionate about homeschooling that I was more than happy to put down the school system at every opportunity. It's easy to get swept away with John Taylor Gatto and some of the other radical school haters.
And yet 'hate' it is. It is a form of hate and a form of violence to declare war on schooling, to declare war on parents of any camp, by even defining ourselves as a particular type of home educator, or parent, or whatever. Is it necessary for us to have to define ourselves in such exclusive ways?
I feel much more respectful of school these days and of parents who choose school for their children. I do not think them unkind or neglectful as I (to my shame) once did - an idea which is actually quite common amongst home educators. It's all too easy to get puffed up with our own sense of righteousness isn't it?
I know enough people from enough walks of life to see the beauty and multiple truths of beautiful, thoughtful, fantastic folks all walking different paths.
I am really glad that we are all so different.
I see the beauty in the words of Rumi, Kahlil Gibran, Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, Krishnamurti and Einstein. In the words of Nina Simone and Picasso. Bob Marley and Maya Angelou. So many people are inspiring and wise! Each holding a fragment of the wisdom of the whole - even you, dear reader.
I wrote an article once about people who inspired me - the list is of course longer....
My own ugly prejudices are not unique to me. We all have them. Rather than try to deny them - I am choosing to shine a light on them. Maybe by doing so, you will be inspired to look deeper into your own heart too.
And in an effort to be more peaceful, more equal, to find more common ground with others, I wonder how helpful it really is to define myself only in terms as a homeschooler or a mum or a wife or a doula? Even the fact of being a woman creates a line of separation. Yet I am a woman. I am a human. My beliefs are equal to yours. I am not better than you. You are not better than me. We are the same.
I was looking at different mandalas online in an attempt to define my statement of intent, of purpose, beyond the petty divisive beliefs that I, just like everyone, use to define my otherness from folks.
This is so lovely, so universal, and speaks of what I wish to hold dear in my life and how I want to live. It's based on the seven Hawaaian principles...
The world is what you think it is - Be aware
There are no limits - Be free
Energy flows where attention goes - Be focused
Now is the moment of Power - Be here now
To love is to be happy with - Be happy
All power comes from within - Be confident
Effectiveness is the meausure of truth - Be positive
Isn't that just beautiful?
Maybe it's possible to simoultaneously believe different things?
What do you think, dear reader?
Do you sit in the ivory tower of your own beliefs?
Is there more room for compassion and tolerance?
(Forgive the terrible pun in the title but a lot of friends call me Pilau!)