I wasn't going to say anything. I understand the path of discovery is a personal experience and people awaken to various aspects of life at their own pace--but I just can't seem to let this one go without mention....
As I ever so patiently wait for my spine-tingling, consciousness-shifting, self-help book to be picked up by a major publishing house, I have decided I need to do something to improve my chances of earning a living outside of my writing. So I have gone back to school.
Because I'm artistically inclined, I opted for cosmetology school at Santa Monica City College. Not too long into the program I realized it was not for me. And like I said, I wasn't going to say anything--but while sitting in Hair Cutting 11A, the teacher, the cosmetology department chair, asked us to talk about what we had observed out in the world (relating to hair) since our last meeting.
I think someone may have mentioned a lady with bad roots, but mostly the class was silent. Then the woman to the left of me (about my age, late 30's) spoke up: "Oh my God! Did anyone see Bill Maher's hair the other night? What's up with that? I mean, really...who's doing his hair!?"
The teacher, who was clearly happy to see someone saying something at all, responded with appropriate enthusiasm and a smile. And then she asked the woman, "Who is Bill Maher?"
I looked around. No one, not one single person in a class of 35 students or so, besides myself and the woman who made the comment, had ever even heard of Bill Maher, let alone seen his hair (which, by the way, I agreed...who was doing his hair that night?). Wow. This is not a reflection of cosmetology students--I met some great people in the program, and I've always appreciated Santa Monica College. Rather, this is a reflection of a good chunk of the general population of America. The people in class that day, including the teacher, ranged in age from 17 to about 60, with the majority being in their mid twenties. I wasn't in an isolated area mind you, a town where people's awareness might be limited. I was in Santa Monica, California, right next to Venice, a few minutes drive from Hollywood--we're progressive!
I'm sharing this little experience of mine in order to remind us of what's really out there--millions of wonderful people who simply just don't know. They are drawn to (or are led to) information that does not pertain to the fate of the nation or the fate of the planet they live on.
However disheartening that is, I can understand these people. Once upon a time politics was to me like dealing with a filthy bathroom, and I thought the people enjoying that chore were boring and certainly no fun to be around. But as I have evolved in life, I have not only learned--in my own time--the importance of being informed, but I have also developed a passion for sorting out, to the best of my ability, social/political complexities.
So perhaps our task as progressives is not only to do everything in our power to prevent damage from the self-serving, greedy corporations, leaders and politicians who litter our world today, but it is also to adapt a fuller understanding of the individual awakening and learning process. Educating is not as simple as giving out information--particularly when it comes to issues relating to social change and improvement. This is because in areas relating to social change and improvement, emotion and fear invade the learning process, making understanding difficult if not impossible.
A person must be willing to transform their understanding--or not. We can attempt to "loosen the strings" by approaching that person with care, but the process of growth and understanding is a personal one. It cannot be accomplished by anyone other than the person making the inner adjustments. As critical as the information we have may be, it may not be possible for us to bring that person (let alone the masses) to assimilate that information. Each person must come to a place in their personal development where it matters to them that they expand their understanding. They decide when they are interested in contributing to positive change by allowing themselves to be educated and informed. In many cases that means addressing fears of loss and abandonment. And one person cannot decide for another when they are capable of working through their fears. For better or for worse, that is a self-directed journey.
Dealing with emotion and fear is a personal process. And, like it or not, since global positive advancement involves individual awakening, we must incorporate that understanding into our efforts to effect change.
P.S. Don't even get me started on the class's response to the Sustainable Works representative who came to our class to discuss ways to save the planet. Like it or not, the majority of Americans today are simply not aware of the importance and impact of certain matters.