Monday, January 26, 2015

Handle with care.

There were questions my father found hard to answer:

"So God created everything?"
"And God created the Devil?"
"So God is responsible for all the evil in the world?"

I was never terribly convinced by my father's answer concerning God's responsiblility for evil.
I have long played Devil's advocate. 

I much prefer kindness to killing. 

I think it was Terry Elliott (him again) who introduced me to Voltaire.

I really must read Candide if I am going to quote from it. 

Candide, ou l'Optimisme (/ˌkænˈdd/; French: [kɑ̃did]) is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: or, Optimism (1947).[5] It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply "optimism") by his mentor, Professor Pangloss.[6] The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide's slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not rejecting optimism outright, advocating a deeply practical precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best" in the "best of all possible worlds".

That's it, that's what I believe:

"we must cultivate our garden."

I would say that I am intolerant of intolerance.

An easy catchprase...

An Englishman's garden.

I believe that we must enable people to find their way, to self-actualise...
This is all well and good. 

There is a problem with this.
What must be our response to those who would trample on our garden, on the garden of others?

What must be our response to fascism?

What must be our response to those who have a very particular interpretation of their place in the world which includes a belief that they have the right to carry out acts of violence towards those that they disagree with, or to seize the gardens of others that they envy?
There are those who justify their acts with words from books.

Those acts include horrific, unimaginable acts: execution, torture, rape, infanticide, genocide, surgical strikes...

There are questions that I find hard to answer:
Am I prepared to fight? 
What am I prepared to fight for?
" ..."
In what ways am I prepared to fight? 
" ..."

“any radical pedagogy must insist that everyone’s presence is acknowledged” 
bell hooks

Image credits

Cartoon: David Pope


  1. I'll give you some Kantian ethics you won't like. Kant says that we must always act according to the Moral Law of the Categorical Imperative (act so that you can at the same time will that it becomes a universal law, under one formulation). This means that we do not lie, kill, break promises and all of that. Ever. We are only responsible for what we do, not for the actions of others. I don't like it, much.

    1. As educators, as parents we are not only responsible for what we do, but for what others do.