Monday, June 27, 2011

Poverty of imagination, and dangers of reductionisms

Classism, a word that has emerged in so many ways in the last three or four decades, in North America, is a tragic dynamic that plagues every town and city on the continent. The poor are relegated to the ghetto's of oru cities, into the schools that happened to be located in their neighbourhoods, without opportunity to see different attitudes, vocabularies and experiences of a different kind of perspective and world view.
We champion television programs like "Home Makeover" as a sign that there is still generosity among us. We champion community agencies like United Way to demonstrate our charity, and certainly there is charity among those leaders and donors of such programs. And this is not to, in any way, deride the work of such agencies.
However, to say that we are growing a hospitable and compassionate society, based on shared values and shared opportunities and sharaed vision is to push our head into the sand.
We are developing a view of the world dominated by dollars, the possession and acquisition of those dollars, and the demise of the long-term view of mutual inter-dependence.
The race for the bottom is well underway. The race for the bottom is just another way of saying "we could not care less" for those less fortunate than the rich. In fact, when we are exposed to a program like "The Passionate Eye" on CBC, entitled, "Wired for Sex" about the sexual activity of Toronto teens (of 13, 14 and 15) among whom such statements as "If you're not doing it by now, you must be gay!" we know that both objectivization of the bodies of young women has reached such a stage that the culture has turned against their healthy development.
A program official fromt he board of education asks young women, "Why do girls not stick up for themselves?" and hears this response: "Even when we say 'No,' they think we don't mean it!"
And reciting terms like sexual harrassment and sexual assault when the culture includes young women following other youn women with their cell phone/camera to grab a picture of two people on the stairs of a house where a party is going on, to show her friends that the girl in the picture is really a "ho" (the slang for whore), the viewer is never certain if such an act is merely reporting to reduce the risk to the girl or to champion the drama in which she is engaged, from the perspective of one who is jealous.
Body parts and body interactions are a clear indication that "bare essentials" is the reductionism that these young people believe is the "norm".
And when our society replaces literature with how to manuals, in order to promote reading among adolescent males, we know that we have given up on any interest in and commitment to a more complex and a more humane and sensitive curriculum offering for male students. How-to manuals will never replace strong novels, and compelling plays and even moving poetry, and never can those leading curriculum development be permitted, without strong push-back, to implement such reductionisms.
We are in effect creating a class permissiveness that accepts, tolerates and even sadly encourages reductionisms at our own peril.

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