When I graduated from college, I immediately applied to graduate school to pursue a career in education. Teaching wasn’t my dream job, but I couldn’t shake it. People often ask me why I teach.
Honestly, it hard to give a precise explanation, but the driving passion that haunts me is that I work with amazing, creative, and talented human beings as they discover life. Every day, I see how the world molds teenagers, and I am impacted by the resilience and determination they show. I witness victories, joy, and successes. I witness grief, pain, and injustice. And in the end, people are people. People want to be valued, loved, and treated as humans. Education gives people power and creates opportunities that can change lives, families, communities. That’s why I do it.
The reality is that education and social justice are far too closely related. Injustices wouldn’t exist outside of an educated world. I am not talking about the kind of education that is neatly folded, wrapped, and tied with a bow. Education that leads to social equality is painful. It is messy. It is uncomfortable. It is confusing. It is hard to define because much is unknown and even a slight misconception is destructive.
Ignorance is genocide. Ignorance kills the talent, the beauty, the gift of cultures and people groups. People don’t understand. Misunderstanding leads to fear and to hate, which is the cause of genocide, race wars, religious intolerance, and the injustices of the world. In fact, neat and easy education is the death of society and all things good and fair.
The concepts taught in schools are all so important but what we must understand is that they are the gateway. Reading, writing, arithmetic are feet discovered by an infant. When a baby finds his feet, it would be illogical to say he has run a marathon. If we read one book, it is illogical to say we understand the essence of the justice in the world.
We must know the sides of every story. We must dig deep and see the pain and the causes of others. We shall look for it in books, in records, in movies, in friends, in enemies. We must search and continue to tie together the intricate details. I am not so fatuous to believe that we ever tie these things together perfectly. There is enough propaganda combined with contempt in the world that we will forever search and reason. We may never fully resolve, but we shall die trying. All the while knowing that we are heading toward the truth. The raw, messy, terrifying yet liberating truth.