At their inception, neither woke nor political correctness were meant to be stupid. Even the concept of microaggression, as extremist left as it has become, was never meant to be callously self-righteous. But in our populist times, all of these have come to be so... especially insomuch as a burning of books is in the contemporary lexicon of those too ignorant to have studied the matter as therapeutic and too self-centered to know what education is in light of their "adult" actions before and with children.
How low can such errors in judgment take us? Well, based on a news report out of Radio Canada, a purported “indigenous knowledge keeper” is the lead figure in the burning. Through research, it is now stipulated that she is neither indigenous nor seemingly knowledgeable of the fact that burning books is universally recognized as an act of aggression and certainly not a process of cleansing and healing, let alone reconciliation. In light of this, how else can such barbarism be seen to be other than stupid and most definitely an insult to the indigenous people of this land? Nicole Obomsawin, anthropologist and "real" indigenous person concurs that the burning of books is not the way to go nor is censure a tool of education.
Though ignorance can be cured through enlightenment, this 2019 reprehensible action reminds us that the virus of stupidity is far more dangerous than a COVID-pandemic. When did we stop learning and assimilating the errors of the past in order to not repeat them? Well, we haven’t. Will it ever come to be if we erase all signs of sin? Will it be when we pretend at purity of racial connections if only we can make the past go away? Is turning objects into ashes a valid process in which we can guarantee our ancestral and even today’s wrongs will never re-exist?
Sadly, we humans tend to repeat the past regardless; as if it is part of our fear-based DNA - hurting ourselves and mostly others from generation to generation to generation - and treating this as a sickening acceptance of an “it is what it is” scenario. Why? Because the more we face needing to remember, the more we run away from teaching ourselves social skills and empathy. Why? because we fail to realize, it seems, that we are beasts, not of slow learning, but of fast forgetting. What is it with us that, as children we are loving beings who recognize and accept each other’s foibles and differences? Yet, as adults, we fear this same “otherness”. What once we perceived as part of a magical garden of colours, shapes and wonderment, becomes us collectively growing into Grinches demanding that each be not of a garden but rather of an acreage of lawn with each blade adhering to the bland sameness of a “mowed into shape” impossible "perfection".
And so, what the hell, let’s burn books! Not just for our own self-aggrandizing satisfaction but mainly to teach our children about the importance of “censorship” and "power over"! And what the hell again! Why not start burning witches too - as we did in our proselytized pasts. Let’s pretend we aren't as horrid as we all can be to each other on “all” sides of the spectrum. Whether we know it or not... we are not (nor have we ever been) a superior species. Humans lack even the most basic of animal connection instincts and heart to be so.
And because of our lack of recognition of who we "and they" really are, self-righteous “enlightenment” too often rules the day, keeping us at war’s beckoning and at each other’s throats even when “others” don’t even bother to tread on our territorial prerogatives. All of this to note that we are generally, in this era of me, myself and I, poorly led and ever more poorly submissive to that which preaches itself sacred via "its own truth”, rather than “the” truth.
Oh, for the likes of a genuine Akela to keep this pack in line!...
Sadly, without a greater respect for self-respect we will always lack the ingenuity to survive and thrive, share and reconcile. When we let the worst of us become the norm of us we encourage our children to be anxious, to despair, to fear and wish themselves out of the horrors they have been given as an inheritance. What else does the burning of books feel like to children? And at the behest of a school board!!!!!! What else can they think but: “these adults are insane!”
How horrendous it is to think that children in the 21st century are trustingly being handed over to such a dictate of devolution! Rather than teach and eliminate racism, rather than be a battle act for reconciliation, such failures, such populist reasonings do nothing more than stoke and maintain the embers of the past; teaching nothing, having us remember nothing through an ignoring, via erasure from view, of the very fact we remain fallible - and forever will be.
“Lest we forget”...
Reminders are better left visible and available, coldly being what they are: nothing more, nothing less than: reminders... the most crucial elements to our evolving selves and collectives - lest we turn back the clock to even greater satanic rites of an ever devolving system.
Books and any other symbols of our less than savory pasts allow us to remain calm yet determined to “never again” create, and do, and say, and write, and feel what we once did in ignorance. These “objects” remind us that we must forever do better in the ridding ourselves, not of books, but rather of the populist mindsets which pretend at reasoning us away from remembering.
All in all, if being “woke” purportedly means: being aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice), then we’ve definitely missed the boat...
Being woke was never meant to be fascism at its most symbolic and because it is in the case of book burnings, maybe those who determine the directions of our hearts and minds and souls through their false rhetoric need to be refrained from ever imposing their political stripes upon our children ever again. That's the first step.
If we care for ALL of our children and their futures, let’s bring the wisdom of elders from every facet of cultural and spiritual life to the fore. Have them enter the elementary and secondary classrooms to offer a positive moving forward rather than a stagnant pond of tit-for-tat reconciliation strategies with little to offer our children and their children’s children than repetitions of yesteryear. What adults of the future need are positive discussions and philosophical discourse; sage discernment rather than destructive emoting passing itself off as Truth.
At this time, adults in the game are moving nothing forward. They are, in actual fact, retreating to yet another endless “battle plan” - the next “official” move in the so-called direction of reconciliation. Hell, let's make room for child discussion on what is right and wrong, correct and incorrect and I would wager book burning would be a last resort stupidity no child would ever conjure. And possibly, through the wisdom of those who are worthy of being mentors and through the inherent goodness of children, summations to end all tomfoolery will bring about soul-directions which will save not only the world but ourselves from ourselves.
The role of children in our lives? Imagining better. The role of adults? Implementing better. Let's get at it.
Bernard Poulin. . .