Are you free?
I have been thinking about faith for one of my classes.
Does our educational system deserve the faith we put into it? Is compulsory public education set up to enhance our lives or to get us to conform to norms determined by other people?
For example, are we active or passive toward our existence? Are our values our own or were they drilled into us? Do we question what we are told we should desire by the mass media?
It seems to me that it takes a certain amount of faith to take the risks that are necessary to live a life of active engagement instead of one of passive conformity.
Do we have faith that our life has purpose and meaning? Do we need faith to break the chains of conformity and mediocrity? Are we here to simply exist or are we here to live fully? Why would we even explore these ideas without some level of faith that we are not simply evolutionary accidents, but people that can seek meaning, change and learn endlessly?
Finally, do we have faith in freedom? Our outer lives are not that free. I have come to believe (faith!) that freedom can be enhanced on the inside, even when it is not available on the outside.
Some of you have read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I find his story powerful for any number of reasons, but mostly because he found freedom in prison. It is this inner freedom we need if we are to pursue lives of purpose and meaning, lives dedicated to wisdom and compassion.
It seems to me that we need some kind of faith in ourselves to think that we are worthy of living interesting and meaningful lives. If you think about it, most of the great people we admire stand out not because they went along with everyone else, but because they broke away from the herd mentality to realize their unique potential.
My life in education has moved me in the direction of trying to promote freedom of thought. This is one of the reasons I ask you to write reflections rather than summaries. Many students struggle with these assignments. This is not their fault, but it does speak loudly to what "education" has done to their minds.
My wish for you is that you will lead a life of adventure, growth and endless learning. But this might only be possible if you have faith that it is possible.
To be free requires commitment and practice. It is not a given.
So it ends up the real question is not whether you are free or not, but whether you are committed to shaking off the shackles of passivity and conformity while being determined to live the life that only you can live when you free your mind.