Everyday, millions of children march to school with drudgery and resistance. As young children, they go in openhearted and free -- at night, they imagine that their tiny hands can reach up and touch the birds. The entire world is a new place and the fascination of beauty never subsides. But as older adolescents leaving their high school, they go close-minded and bondaged -- at night, they drink themselves into passing out and talk about the most popular thing to come, under obligation. The boys worry about their sexual conquests. The girls worry about their sexual appearance. Both worry about being social in a society that has made a weakness of kindness and an insult of emotion. Such a great change occurs between those who enter school and those who leave it.
Just think of the sheer idiocy of compulsory education. We threaten these children with imprisonment if they do not appear in class. Once in class, they spend their time either sleeping or completing tasks that are completely irrelevant to them. By giving them no option in their schooling, what have we taught them? The first lesson they learn is to detest learning, to hold unbridled sympathy for education. Take any man, put him in chains, and force him to recite poetry, or force him to play an instrument, or force him to farm the land -- and once he becomes a free man, do you think he will want to engage in that activity that was forced upon him? The scars on a slaves hands from working the fields, the memories of abuse of a house servant; given the right to do as they wish in the world, is it likely to think that they will return to that work which they were forced to do? And then consider schools. We force children to sit and overfeed them erroneous facts, faulty logic, damaged reasoning, concealed under the guise of "schooling." Once the mental faculties of these children are damaged, their heart grows an animosity towards learning, towards books, towards facts and knowledge. It is the greatest folly to make children hate learning, and the greatest danger to a real, living Democracy in any nation.
Because when the Red Sox win a baseball game, five universities in the state of Massachusetts riot. But when the United States regime supports a South American dictator known for slaughtering his own people, it's a whisper lost in the wind.
Our ignorance is their power.
Real knowledge is acquired by learning what interests you, through reading, investigation, practice, or any other desirable method. To become intelligent, you must engage in activity with the idea that you are learning because you want to, because knowledge is a goal. The path to conformity varies greatly from this. First, you engage in nothing, but allow cultural standards and social obligations to control you. Second, the idea of learning is to memorize random, perhaps unrelated and blatant facts -- true or untrue -- so that they may be recited upon command. Third, the goal is not knowledge, but a passing grade; they learn to for the sake of knowledge, but rather for the sake of social acceptance.
Take two children. Give the first freedom and liberty, give him a wealth of books and movies, give him teachers to aid him upon his request and a place that encourages art, creativity, and independence. Then take away the freedom and liberty of the second, require his presence in a classroom in front of a teacher, threaten him with a jail sentence if he does not go to his school. Give each of them ten or fifteen years, and check the development of each of them after this amount of time. The only forced to endure slavery may be able to stand in a lecture hall and he might be able to say to you, "George Washington was born in 1732 and died in 1799. In 1776, the Revolutionary War began where he acted as general. In 1783, it ended. In 1789, he was elected president a first time, and in 1792, he was elected president a second time." You are given dates and events, surely, it is true history. But take the child who was given freedom to do as he pleased, and he might be able to stand in a lecture hall and tell you, "In the sixteenth century, in Europe, a Spanish physician by the name of Michael Servetus was convicted of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church. Fleeing from his oppressors, he made it to Geneva, where the vindictive John Calvin had absolute authority. In earlier years, Servetus expressed his doubt on Calvin's protestant religion. Once captured by the authorities, Servetus was burned to death at the orders of John Calvin in 1533. They had him wear a hat of sulfur and used slow-burning wood, that the crowd could listen to screams for mercy for the duration of a half hour. One year after the death of this man, Calvin published a list of insults of his former enemy."
Be a rebel. Because being a conformist means admitting that the parts of you that matter are already dead.
But if that's the case, what does matter? The emotions that run rampant through our head, the thoughts that we tumble and toss over in our minds constantly -- sexual fantasies to memories of our friends and family, thoughts and ideas about our future, wishes and desires for our current life with those who are close to us. The idea of a living freedom, knowing that what you wish to do believe with your mind is unrestricted and what you wish to do with your body, so long as you harm none, is unlimited. Life matters to us because we make it matter; if we never told a lover we would miss them upon our departure for a long voyage, if we never told a family member that we dream of a time when oppression ended, if we never wrote a poem and hoped to give it to a friend whose face we haven't seen in years -- if we never cared about life, then life wouldn't matter. What matters is what we make matter. So in a few years, all the kids who graduate from high school will know that their grades never mattered, because even though so young, they already know that it won't be the grades they got that they think about upon their death bed.
Twenty years ago the textbooks used in history class just began to cover some of the issues of the four hundred years of oppression of the African race in this country.
Children who are forced into a school and forced to complete erroneous assignments learn only one thing: to hate education. I clearly demonstrated this truth earlier, but there is more to be learned from it. Take a slave. It could be a slave from any society, whether an African in colonial America or a Plebeian in the Roman Empire. For the entirety of their life, they labor. Their sweat, their tears, their blood, the byproducts of their toil seep into the ground and their garments. All they produce goes to the one who did not labor (and alas, our modern Capitalist system has managed to recreate these conditions). Inside every slave, there will be a growing hatred of their activity as a servant, a farmer, a manufacturer -- they will learn to hate what has been forced upon them without their consent. But inside some of them, there will be the kindling of hope for a dream. One day, they will hope to produce for themselves, knowing that what their hands reap will be what fills their stomach, and not the stomach belonging to idle hands. So, too, it is with our compulsory education. The more we are forced into schools and our minds filled with useless facts, the stronger our thirst grows for real education, for real knowledge. Few are like this, but we exist. Others simply remain politically and emotionally sedated, as the focus of their mind is the next test or the next prom, and not children enslaved in Southeast Asia or the meaning of life.
To every student who must endure the excuse of an education system that we have, I can only offer these words of hope... Educate yourself, not with schoolteachers, but with the books they wanted to ban. Teach yourself, learn, grow, and develop. Learn that the greatest asset education can offer is that of independence.
Life matters to us because we make it matter. Be a rebel.