By Rachelle Mawle
I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of public discourse, lately. So much of the conflict seems to center on long-held beliefs. And many of those who most adamantly cling to extreme views on politics, religion, and the social safety net, don’t seem to have experienced much beyond childhood parameters.
I know there are exceptions to the rule. Many young people emerge from their childhood bubbles with curiosity, bursting into the world with an open mind and a desire to learn about other faiths and cultures. But, more and more, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. So, I’m going to speak in generalities here, because right now it’s the other young people I’m most curious about.
Why is it that a child raised in one religion, the faith of their family, clings most tightly not to the sacred texts, but to the belief that their viewpoint is the only right one? And reinforce that belief by assuring themselves that everyone else is wrong or naive? Why is it that a person who (by sheer luck) is born into wealth and privilege can look at those in need of financial assistance and automatically assume that human being is a waste of money? Is it simply a lack of life experience and education, or a merciless cocktail of nature and nurture?
A concerning skin growth recently sent me trekking into Atlanta to visit a dermatologist. Doctor visits are always stressful, but adding the possibility of skin cancer had made me a nervous wreck. I was grateful that my fiancé and son could go with me. The doctor recognized that I was worried about the biopsy. She was kind and reassuring, talking about where she was raised, sharing that she had attended Stanford Medical School.
“How do you like Georgia?” she asked.
“It’s a definite adjustment,” I answered. I told her about my futile attempts to get my son into a decent school, and how I’d never had to worry about my son’s education in Fort Collins.
“I attended some wonderful private schools, growing up,” she said. “There are some good ones nearby.”
I smiled politely. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the income for private schools. It’s looking like we might just have to home school.”
I was baffled by her response.
“What a wonderful opportunity!” she said. “It’s so beneficial to be home schooled! And how lucky your child is to be taught by his parents! Really, more people should do that, I often wonder if I had been home schooled how much more I would have learned.”
Right. Let them eat cake. Oh, how lucky, I thought, that so many children don’t have access to quality education. For parents who aren’t wealthy (like this doctor), there are only two options. Enroll your child in a crappy school, or home school them. Heaven forbid both parents have to work to make a living, or perhaps don’t have the mental or emotional resources to educate their children on their own.
I just smiled again, and said “You’re right, my boy’s lucky.”
The doctor was raised with privilege. She seemed to be a caring person, but really had no idea how people below her demographic lived or what issues they had to face.
I have to wonder if even a Stanford Medical degree is not as beneficial as walking a mile in another physician’s stilettos – or in my case (on this particular day), Target flip-flops.
If an infant was born and grew up inside a box, they would emerge believing the world was a cube. Empathy and compassion develop from a personal effort to continue growth and education beyond what our parents or schools taught us. The reality is we never graduate from the need to continue learning. And we have much to learn from each other, from our different walks.
No one, no matter race, education, or finances, is superior to another.
We are all human beings.
Rachelle Mawle is a writer, blogger, homeschool teacher, and devoted mother to a ten year old boy and two fur babies who test her on a daily basis. She recently moved to Atlanta, GA, from Fort Collins, CO, to be with her fiancé, and is still in the process of adjusting…maybe forever. Check out her blog at www.anotherdailydisaster.com.
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