I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Stand Up For Children” by Marian Wright Edelman, published in Paul Loeb’s book The Impossible Will Take a Little While. In my opinion, education is not a privilege; it is a right. It’s a right for every child in every city, borough, hood, suburb and slum. It is a right because I believe that the power of education can affect the difference of a child’s life as does the flap of a butterfly’s wings can affect climate change.
Likewise, if education is a right, then educating is our responsibility. The buck stops with you and me, to ensure that every child has the access to the education that can change their lives. My educational pedagogy is embedded in the belief that I cannot teach a child that I do not love. It truly is that simple. I believe that the difference between the United States’ educational system and those of neighboring countries is simply that we do not love our neighbor’s children as our own. Essentially, we’ve lost sight of the “it takes a village to raise a child” mentality, and for that, our survival is grim.
I had the pleasure of witnessing the birth of a friend’s baby last year. A mother’s love is said to be the most unbreakable earthly bond. As a I watched this new mother love on her infant son, I marveled at how instant that love was. It dawned on me that this infant had done nothing to earn his mother’s love. He simply gained that love because he was hers, because she labored to deliver him and because he was so easy to love as an extension of her. In her opinion, he was perfect and without blemish. I watched her lean down to kiss his face before the nurses cleaned him off; that was love. I watched her not wanting to let his tiny fingers go when the nurses carried him away; that was love. I watched her nurse him after 33 hours of labor because she knew he needed to eat; that was love. And I watched her grimmace in pain as he tried to learn to nurse, but she kept on feeding; that was love.
The thought began to form: What if I loved my students as if they were mine? What if I loved them to learn? A mother will do anything in her power to ensure that her child has everything it needs. What if I loved my students in that way? Could failure or lack of resources or lack of funding prevent me, the teacher, from doing everything in my power to help them succeed? Could corporations, banks, bailouts, the top one percent or government prevent me, the community member, from volunteering, donating my money or speaking up when I witness injustice?
If I loved your child as I love my own, could I allow the comfort of what I do not need to keep me from advocating for what you might? If I loved your child as my own could I truly go to sleep at night knowing that the justice they so anxiously deserve is within my reach? I don’t believe that I could. In fact, I believe everything that is wrong with this system hinges on the lack of love we have one towards another. We allow race, class, gender, religion and ultimately privilege separate us. Shame on us all.
I think about the Civil Rights Movement and I’m in awe of their resolve. What made them different from us today? How could a movement, which faced such adversity prevail? The answer, is love. I think when, and IF, we ever decide to love our children as our own, our problems will fix themselves because it will become our responsibility to fix them. No longer will we fund wars before education. No longer will we allow property value to determine who deserves access and who does not.
My favorite scripture (and words to live by) are: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13: 34-35
Imagine a world where we loved our children in this way. Imagine if we loved our elderly and those with differences or special needs? Imagine.