Thursday, June 07, 2007


Just started "Night" by Elie Wiesel. Read it. Have your children read it, even if they are too young. Not just to recount the horror of the holocaust. Not just so that we will never forget what man can do to man.

So that we can see what man will let others do to him. So that we see and remember the price of denial. So that we remember what happens to good men who rely on hope and the charity, intervention and force of arms of other good men.

Hope is not a plan. Denial and lassitude is not an effective strategy.

So far in the book, the moments that shriek with the most plaintive despair are those few times when the people could have done something and didn't. Those are the moments that haunt the author and probably why he spent the rest of his life speaking for the dead.

A dear friend spoke of "agency". It is will, your ability to make decisions about your life, your ability to act on your life. She is amazed and apalled at how many people give up their agency. How many go along. How many smile and nod against their beliefs. How many count on others to take care of them and fix problems (and do not think for one second that that letting someone fix your problems or feed you or supply medicine to your children is not giving up agency- dependence is slavery).

"Night" is a story of many people who gave up their agency and watched their people die.

Do you see the paralells between the last post and this one? When is not messing with a system until you understand it merely biding time? When is it giving up agency?

When it is a decision.
Refusing to make a decision until you have gathered facts is one thing.
Refusing to gather facts or ignoring them to avoid making a decision is another.

I tell my students not to listen to me- to question, to make up their own minds, to be skeptical-especially of me. When they really need what I've taught them, they will be terribly, terribly alone. "Never, ever, ever delegate responsibility for your own safety! Not to me, not to the police, not to some self-proclaimed expert!" Broader but more succint: "Maintain your agency."

No comments: