Monday, June 1, 2009
A Justice Education
a sample of an article By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: May 30, 2009One of the great failures of American universities is that they are far too parochial, rarely exposing students to worlds beyond our borders.
If colleges provide credit for dozing through an introductory Spanish class, why not give credit for a “gap year” in a Bolivian village? If students can learn about microfinance while sitting comatose in 9 a.m. lectures, couldn’t they learn more by volunteering with a lender in a Bangladesh slum? (read the whole thing here)
So, I've been thinking about justice and education. I do a fair bit of teaching/speaking and writing about justice and biblical principles equality and economic distribution and legislation that is fair. Now, to be sure - I do try my best. But, my hunch is (and this could be rooted in my own learning style) that justice cannot be taught it must be caught. To truly be 'educated' in justice there usually is an identification with the oppressed - at least that's the kind of justice education that will lead to any kind of action.
For Ghandi it was in South Africa where he was thrown off a train, for King Jr., it was many memories of a childhood where his father and family were consistently dishonored and publicly humiliated, for Nelson Mandela the same - for Wilberforce it was in his identification with the abolitionists (and the bits of time he spent sleeping in a casket to feel what it was like to be chained up in a slave hold of a ship) and on and on it goes. Every one who has actually received a proper justice education has been immersed in injustice and oppression.
So, I'm exploring options - there are many 'gap' year training programs that are designed for an immersion experience (thewarcollege.com is my favourite!) but order614 (in Melbourne is a great one) and savedtosave.com is another (from Sweden), ignite (toronto) and don't forget New York's Railton school for youth leadership (and there are more) and they offer an education different from a workshop and lecture.
I'm thinking about a Global Justice Trek... where we journey to discover the oppression and identification with the world's poor and then use that education as a tool for social reform.. The Salvation Army finds itself in 117 countries (that may be even more now...) and many of those places are home to suffering, persecution and injustice. Perhaps there is a way to share the global education necessary to raise up world changers within our own movement? Just thinking.