Since the last post my life was filled in with many events, meetings, travels and insights. Too many perhaps to share them all in one post. Indeed while writing I am still wondering what will be the main point of this post… and yet my heart already knows it as I have this sentence in my mouth since the beginning of the week: ‘Every time I travel to Portugal, my country of birth, I confront myself with the very deep essence of capitalism and patriarchy, in many ways and with many people. It is like a cold shower of real life to awake me from the ‘everything is possible’ world where I live in.’ And yet I don’t want to give up my world, because believing in a better future is the main reason to be alive and passionately alive.
Interestingly I realised that my parents, and unfortunately many other people, have a deep rooted belief that change is not possible. People who share this belief are convinced that the system we live in is the only one possible, they can’t see a new different future. They surrendered to the mainstream conviction that all forms of discrimination and injustice are unchangeable and they gave up hope. They assume sexism, racism, poverty, and so on, are so inherently part of the way we function that it is not possible to change it. And in a way they maintain and defend the rules that hurt them, the very unfair rules that keep them working for fourteen hours in a row (every day), that keep poverty, that keep people in unsatisfying jobs that are everything but fulfilling, and the list could go on for pages.
I asked to myself ‘Isn’t this lack of hope and believe in a brighter future a very well engendered result of the capitalist-patriarchal system? Isn’t it functional to the system?’. And the answer is YES, of course it is. What else could be more useful to maintain an exploiting and classist system that benefits a few? If one does not believe in change probably will not engage in any potential changing action, what results in a shared awareness of unchangeable situations and rules, and a real lack of change or change at a very slow pace. Where was it that our civil society lost the sense of citizenship that Paulo Freire wrote about:
“…it is a duty and right that I have to participate in the transformation of society.” (**)
On the other hand I totally understand that people don’t believe in change, because in most cases their life experiences were bad enough to show them life is not a sweet thing, on the other way around it can be very bitter and unfair. Though the main question here is ‘why in some cases unfairness and discrimination leads people to be change-makers and community leaders and in other cases not?’. Perhaps the very lack of ‘communities’ and a ‘sense of community’ is one of the answers. People live fearful of each other, the ‘other’ is a stranger potentially dangerous and not worth of trust. People don’t say hello even to their neighbours, people don’t talk, don’t dialogue, don’t share their common pain. Nowadays people live in such an individualistic way that is almost impossible to rely on community leaders who manage to gather consensus and support around problems and solutions. Real leaders, those who live an ethic life and are not ready to betray a cause for a few euros or to gain/maintain power and position. In most of the communities I know in Europe this is an issue, still I can’t generalise to other realities.
Awareness is essential to change, as it is the belief that change is possible. And although many people lost their hope in a better future there are many other who are still open to it, namely young people. In this sense I am convinced that teachers and educators have a crucial role in contributing to this awareness and possible change, by acting a transformative education in their classrooms and educational settings and therefore raising a new generation of hopeful change-makers.
(**) In Learning to Question, cited by bell hooks in ‘Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom’