I guess it was inevitable that an Election defeat would be followed by a period of brow-beating, on the part of the politically minded. I’m not a member of the Labour Party, but their philosophy is just about the closest fit I can find to the kind of society that I would like to live in. So I’m watching all this from the sidelines, lobbing in the occasional tweet to stir things up (such as, “Pretty please can we have a woman next?”). But the very last thing that I had hoped for or wanted to see was in-fighting, bickering, rudeness, and a game of Pass the Blame. Sadly, I’ve stumbled across quite a bit of that in the past few days. It has gone very Dog Eat Dog in the online section of my world.
I sense something very similar in education at the moment, as well. I suppose this is the inevitable consequence of years of rhetoric about “failing” schools and “bad” teachers. Of the introduction of competition into the educational arena. And of the antagonistic approach taken by Mr Gove. These days I stumble across blog posts where the underlying message seems to be that the writer is ‘good’ because they use a specific method, and everyone else is ‘bad’ because they don’t. I watch the endless (and quite frankly, tedious) debates about ‘traditionalist’ versus ‘progressivist’, in which “I am right, therefore you are wrong” seems to be the main idea. (Though I get the distinct sense that “I am right, therefore I am cleverer than you” hides beneath some of the writing as well.) I even see educators in one sector blaming those in another for their perceived failings. This makes me incredibly sad.
I’m fairly old (my children reassure me that I’m “only middle-aged”, which I guess is some kind of consolation). But it feels like I’ve been around long enough to know how the air tastes. Whether it is bitter, or sweet, you might say. And I have to say that the air used to taste an awful lot kinder and gentler, and a damn sight more polite and friendly. Perhaps this is all just another inevitable consequence: that of joining Twitter, where some people lob their thoughts around with quite breathtaking rudeness at times. But here’s the thing: in the end, hate will only ever tear you apart, no matter how great your ideas or how noble your intentions. Hate will only ever end up eating you up from the inside out, no matter how hard you try to target it at someone else. When I come across someone who I sense is full of fury, my overwhelming urge is to hug them and to hope that I can make it all better for them soon. Because, as Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently put it:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”