We live in a world of strong beliefs, whether religious or secular. There are those willing to die, and even kill, for what they believe. While those are extremes, it does make me think about what we are willing to sacrifice of ourselves on the way to wherever it is we are trying to go.
My beliefs are rooted in the lesson of Esau in the Old Testament that I often think back to: for the momentary satisfaction of a bowl of soup, Esau lost his entire inheritance. I fear that cutting paths will lead me down roads I am not meant to go down. And although work in education usually feels like a daunting, helpless task, I have to continuously believe that it is worth the long journey. Short, quick fixes won’t solve a century’s old and deep issue.
If there are more eye-opening lessons I have been taught at Cambridge it is that I feel more aligned with academia that manifests itself in applications of those without the privileged access to the Ivory Towers of academia. There is no joy for me in being able to ramble off theory after theory in beautiful phrasings without knowing that someone will use my work with it to make shoves against the tyrannies of the world. There are those who wish to be allies of the disadvantaged and believe that knowing what is going on makes them ‘there’; that they have ascended to levels not obtained by the other less informed.
Even some of my very ‘liberal’ white friends are unaware of the ways in which the thick, pervasive smog of social constructs of race and racism had permeated aspects of their thoughts and actions. Not to say that any one of us is perfect. But some of us are more willing to face that head on in real and lasting ways.
Yesterday, I chose not to complete the final round of a job application process. I was initially excited about work that would place me back home in Indiana and pay very well, in the field I love. However, once the job released more information on the specific project I would be working on, that joy disappeared. Everything they stated was everything I am against in education. I was torn. I want to make the plunge into policy and I need money after a year on the pound and transitioning post graduate school this summer. Arguably, I could get my policy experience and go deep behind enemy lines. But at what price? What was I willing to pay?
I meditated and I prayed. I also did what I always do—I called my mother. I ultimately came to the decision to withdraw my application. I could have finished it just to see if I would have been accepted, but I knew in my heart that I could not take it. At this point in my life I have seen too much to pretend things do not exist. Too much that has shown me that all the little decisions adds up. I have seen good people go in to do one thing, wanting to get out in a few years, and still be there. And it would be hard to love the person in the mirror if she was in her own ways helping to push forward what she considered to be harmful to others.
I guess in the questions of using the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house, it becomes more a question of whether or not you plan to live in that house, because you may just destroy yourself in the dismantling. As a friend said to me the other day, when one works with the Devil, you don’t change the Devil, the Devil changes you.
In the last chapter of one of my favourite books, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller reflects on what it will be like when he dies and goes to Heaven. He muses that he will dine with God at great feasts and he will be excited to tell God the story of his life, because he spent the time crafting and telling a good story, one he would be proud to share. And God would tell him ‘I know.’
That’s beautiful. I want that.