On Monday, May 8, I attended a City College of San Francisco Town Hall for candidates for student offices. One of my friends from my “Introduction to the United Nations” class was running for Student Trustee so I wanted to support him.
There were six candidates who spoke. They were asked general questions like: Do you support a raise in the student activities fee from $5 to $10? What would you do about increasing participation in the student council?
I had my hand up for several rounds, but was never called upon. Perhaps it was my gray hair. Almost everyone in the room (except the campus policeman) were under 30. (“Never trust anybody over 30” was our motto in the ’60s. So karma is real.)
My question dealt with the subject of lifelong learning. Often in the past, whenever budget woes arose, those in the lifelong learning community (people who take classes outside the 2-year track towards transferring to a 4-year institution, simply for self-improvement or for learning a new skill) have been threatened with cuts from the budget.
Then somebody asked about racism. That brought out a bevy of responses from all six candidates who stumbled all over each other trying to out-victim each other. They were taking on their victimhood identity and running with it, one competing with the other about how much they had been victimized due to race, gender or other intersectionality (“the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage” per Google.)
No wonder incendiaries like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter have emerged to such great effect. It was kind of inevitable.
When I was a high school student not far from Stanford University, there were several (including myself for a while) who were on the Stanford track. But the ones who made it there (not me) were not whole people. Sure they had all the grades and extra-curricular activities checked off on their curriculum vitae, but there was something empty inside.
I took another track. I was empty inside as well, but I quit this and failed that until I finally arrived at the doorsteps of The Prosperos, a school which emphasizes unlearning, undoing the shocks and blocks which have been placed (or which we have allowed to be placed) in our way.
In The Prosperos victimhood is not celebrated. It is discouraged. That’s a big difference with modern academia.
Both lifelong unlearning and lifelong learning are vital in life: unlearning who we think we are; learning the history of the multitude of those who have gone before and made the breakthroughs in consciousness (whether in science or spirit) that have preceded us.
As Diamond Dave said after the town hall: “They’re just a bunch of kids!” Let’s hope they get off the wrong track and onto the right one.