This is the second part of a two-part post. I have not published the first part yet which will talk about why and how racism and bullying exists, but due to the release of the following article yesterday:
Baraboo School District settles for $862,500 with former student alleging racism, sexual assaults (Baraboo News Republic, Sep 2021) – sorry about the annoying paywall, UGGGHH!!!
… and the end of a despairing journey for a girl from our school district; as well as the Baraboo School Board having its forum to choose someone to replace their open seat this week (and I am one of 10 candidates), I thought this would be a good time to get this part out because this will be important to the conversation.
This will be more difficult to cover without first covering the explicit causes (which will be the focus of the first eventual post), so some of these solutions may seem a little out of context, but here we go.
Also, this part is a bit rushed – not covering the socioeconomic factors, so please forgive that too.
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I. The Causes in Short – The Disease of Separation
I will go over the causes in short, so you will have at least some context to my thoughts.
A. Humanity’s Terminal Disease – The Disease of Separation
Ultimately, our society suffers from a disease of separation. As individuals we see ourselves as separate from each other, person to person, but also family to family, and nation to nation, just struggling to survive or to squeak out ahead. We see ourselves as separated by skin color, ethnicity, religion, economic class, zip codes, invisible city, state, or national boundaries, and other socially constructed labels.
This separation could also be reframed in a different way. This “separation” is a rejection of our mutual interdependence which is the fundamental source of ALL societal problems such as bullying, racism, poverty, war, and global suffering.
B. Poverty and Inequality as a Rejection of Our Mutual Interdependence
Our socioeconomic system (based upon monetary systems) abjectly rejects the mutual interdependence of Humanity not only with it self, but also with the Natural World, and, therefore, it creates the exploitation, inequality, poverty, pollution, and the societal sociopathy required for bullying and racism to exist. These horrible results are visceral to, and are a feature of, Capitalism and Monetary Systems. This is what we are tasked with fighting against – the systemic and structural sociopathic features of monetary systems.
If you want to learn the basics of how and why this sociopathy manifests check out my blog page here: Tension within Methods of Exchange
If you want to read more about poverty and its harms I have a collection of links about poverty from a talk I facilitated a few years ago.
II. Community Focused Methods
“It takes a community to raise a child.”Ancient African Proverb
A. Unionize the Parents
A core part of my School Board policies is unionizing the parents through an expansion or the Parent Support Groups which can eventually act as a community focused method of dealing with and bringing to the light of racism and bullying using social means to ensure that such things are seen as unacceptable in the community. Such methods as are described below (Restorative Justice, Human Library, Eye Gazing, All we Share, etc) can be used as a community to help deal with such outbursts and to start the healing process. The home may very well be where such behaviors may start and that is a great place to start to deal with the problem.
Not only can such a strong Parent Support Group be used to defuse tense social issues with our children, but they can also form the social backbone to stem the harms of inequality. When there are families that are suffering we can act together to try to help them to solve their issue and help their home lives to be more stable through arranging stable housing, food, care, clothing, etc when there are families that are suffering as such. There are many of us within the community that have more than enough and we can all work to lift those who are suffering within the community strengthening our bonds and reducing inequality one family at a time.
B. Powerful Social and Cultural Changes to Reinforce Community
Instituting such social and cultural changes as:
- Restorative Justice – Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by crime. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational. (Restorative Justice, Wikipedia, Charter of Compassion)
- Social Phrase to Reinforce our Interdependence
- Namaste is a Sanskrit phrase meaning – the divine light within me acknowledges and honors the divine light within you. It specifically calls to the oneness of all. We are all the same connected by the same energetic oneness, but have different meaty and crunchy transport shells. I have become fond of this term over the years.
- Although, we need something more rooted in English so as to reach the widest possible audience within our community. This new phrase, if started as a social standard, would specifically reinforce our mutual interdependence which is what our globalized human civilization desperately needs to help combat the harms of separation visceral to monetary systems as discussed above.
- A phrase I have just come upon is “All is One.”. I think I have heard this as a quote from Krishnamurti, and I was instantly smitten with how well it encapsulates the concept of Interdependence as a Philosophical Pillar and how we are all interconnected not only with Humanity at large, but also with the Natural World, and the rest of the cosmic universe. I know this sounds new-agey and hokey, but this is the sort of mantra that we need to help reinforce our mutual interdependence.
- Ubuntu – Ubuntu is when a person does something wrong the affected community would circle the person and let them know their good qualities and deeds: great, kind, compassionate, helped me with this, kind word there… in order to reinforce their good qualities and remind them of how good they really can be.
- Reverse Dominance Hierarchy – An example of Reverse Dominance Hierarchy is circling a person who has done well and saying how their accomplishment is not that great in order to humble them. (link)
C. Exercises and Events that Strengthen Connections within the Community (and within our schools)
Let us do all that we can to awaken our collective Humanity! All of these could even be used as a part of a Restorative Justice Program or as powerful school programs too to light a-fire the connections between the students, to bring them all closer together and therefore reduce bullying and racism.
These should be done to show connections to not only people within our local communities, but also between people from all over the world. Once we see that we have many things in common, it binds us together and brings us closer, and strengthens those connections between ourselves and within the broader world. All of these could be done online, especially the Human Library. These methods could even be prescribed by doctors, psychologists, or even as remediative measures for various minor offenses or crimes which would help to increase those connections and understanding, and therefore reduce recidivism rates.
1. All We Share
This video from TV 2 Denmark titled All That We Share focuses on general things which connect us in ways that we may not expect. This is a powerful, powerful video:
2. We Have So Much in Common…
This video from Denmark titled We have so much in common (EN version) focuses on the diverse cultural evolution and influence of national foods, words, etc:
3. Human Library
A human library is where we can check out a specific person and learn about one specific facet of their life, although it typically concentrates on marginalized demographics to raise awareness which will be very useful when it comes to bullying and racism.
4. Eye Gazing
Eye gazing is a powerful practice that creates an intimate connection to another human while bringing ourselves closer not only to ourselves, but also to the rest of Humanity.
- Eye contact Experiment ?Global Event Sep 23?
- Human Connection Movement (Australia)
- Look Me In The Eyes (SBS Australia)
- Effects of anonymity, invisibility, and lack of eye-contact on toxic online disinhibition (Science Direct, 2012)
III. What can we do about Bullying and Racism Within Our Schools?
So, the question becomes how do we (the school system), the limited domain with which we can work with as a district, start to fight against (or to stem the tide of) the harms of our society’s rejection of our mutual interdependence. Well, there is a lot we can do, but it requires a radical, radical change to our curriculum and how we think about education and its place within a globalized human civilization. Our educational system at all levels needs to reinforce an individual’s mutual interdependence: with themselves, with the rest of Humanity, and with the Natural World.
Let us start by taking a look to a modified quote from Yoda from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace which places this cycle in more clear focus. I added the ignorance part which is the true progenitor for this process in his quote:
Ignorance is the path to the dark side
- ignorance leads to fear
- fear leads to anger
- anger leads to hatred
- hatred leads to suffering
It is this process that such an education system looks to help short-circuit by attempting to eliminate ignorance (of our mutual interdependence), which would greatly reduce the people who may fall prey to the predatory and dehumanizing practices of separating oneself from others, and hence world-wide suffering through exploitation, poverty, racism, war, etc.
We must reforge our education systems so that we teach and reinforce our interconnectedness and our interdependence with all by allowing, requiring, and fostering our children’s connections with the rest of Humanity and the Natural World. It is only through this that true systemic and structural change can truly challenge bullying and racism.
A. Broad Scale Values Change
We can start with teaching some new social values starting with something similar to my 8 Philosophical Pillars for Peace within Humanity (8P3H), of which the most Pillar is Interdependence. Interdependence is the lens through which we should think of and see all things through. Here are the full 8 Philosophical Pillars for your reference:
- Natural World
- Justice and Compassion
- Science and Technology
B. Curriculum Changes
1. Connections to The Self
a. General Connections
- mindfulness and meditation
- mindful exercises (Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gung)
- reinforce self-esteem and self worth
- non-violent communication and conflict resolution
- teaching empathy and compassion
- teaching consent
There is a lot of powerful stuff here such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga which create children which are more mindful of themselves, and therefore will also be more mindful of how they affect others.
Teaching empathy and compassion early (pre-k), as well as consent, non-violent communication, and conflict resolution will be amazing to empower our children create positive personal relationships which are conscientious and respect boundaries.
Perhaps, something that is really useful for dealing with racism and bullying is teaching solidarity – that we ALL need to stand against sociopathy in all of the forms we find. We are all responsible for allowing such horrible things like this to happen and we can all stand together to prevent it. Image how different the experience of the young girl from the introduction would have turned out if her friends, classmates, and the community’s parents had stood with her and told that boy(s) in one loud voice “No, this is not OK.”.
c. 6 Degrees of Interconnectedness
We can create an exercise which have children track personal decisions that they make throughout the day and how that those decisions affects them (a mindfulness exercise). Then we can have them track how it affects for 6 connections, and then think of how things could have ended up differently if a different choice had been made.
2. Connections to Humanity
a. Diverse Communities
Having schools (and communities) which are intentionally diverse in:
- family sizes and types – single parent, two parents, same-sex parents, extended families, plural partner families
- sexuality – gay straight, bi, polyamorous; teaching comprehensive sexuality education
- gender expression – cisgendered, transgendered, intersex
- religion – families from various religious practices
- cultural – families from different cultures
- Ableness – various handicaps physical, mental, etc
… and have them all spend time together in larger group settings as well as smaller group settings too. Exposure to diversity reduces fears and phobias which is why university is so powerful in this as national and global melting pots.
b. Diverse Staff
We need to over represent minorities in the teaching and support staff as well as have other minority demographics represented which will increase a child’s exposure to the diversity of humanity and therefore reduce fear and ignorance.
c. Comparative Anthropology
- comparative religion and mythology
- comparative anthropology
If there are indigenous populations found locally then indigenous topics such as history, culture, language, etc should be taught to all students, which should also include the horrors that European Americans has inflicted upon them.
We should also not be white washing history or preventing minorities of all types from being talked about. Believe it or not – women, people of color, sexual minorities, and non-Christians have made incredible contributions to human progress and history. We need to be drawing from the entirety of human history and all who have contributed to it for better and worse.
Emphasize global history and achievements and not just national history and achievements. We also need to ensure that excluded “minorities” such as women (in our horrifically patriarchal society) and ALL people of color, as well as sexual and religious minorities are equally included because all have been attacked, exploited, abused, and even tyrannized and genocided all throughout history. Their accomplishments and historical importance should be included and are just as important as any White and Straight Christian male.
Create connections to other school across the globe so children have access to various languages, cultures, religions, etc. This could be enacted through video and audio communication, exchanging and hosting students and teachers, and trips to each other’s countries. This could also extend to cross-cultural collaborative project based learning too.
d. Foreign Languages and Linguistics
- Foreign Languages should be an integral part of preschool, 4k, primary school, etc.
- An Intro to to Foreign Language Course which should be made available in middle school and high school that includes an intro to linguistics and uses Esperanto as a teaching tool.
- At least 4 additional languages (see below) should be taught all throughout schooling from daycare all the way through college and beyond:
- Esperanto as a 1st choice and a powerful linguistic educational tool
- local Indigenous languages should be taught as a 2nd choice
- American Sign Language should be a 3rd choice
- Spanish (or other locally dominant language) should be a 4th choice
- others 5th+ choices (Chinese, Hindi, Japanese)
- Foreign languages classes could also form as a bridge to cultural exploration, cultural anthropology, comparative anthropology, comparative linguistics, making connections to how their cultures and languages influenced ours and how ours influenced theirs for better or worse, etc. Arrangements could also be made to contact other schools from those countries to share and to learn from them directly which makes the world a much smaller place. (This is sort of an example of interdisciplinary learning.)
e. Games That Focus on Strengthening Connections
f. Entertainment Which Focuses on Connections and Interdependence
- 13 Reasons (Netflix)
- Butterfly Effect (movie)