Saturday, May 10, 2014

Background Check


I have seen the light. Yes, I admit I resisted the notion that all visitors of more than one day who entered our school community needed to get fingerprinted for a FBI background check. I was appalled by the notion that if the idea was the safety of the children in a crazed gun-toting world (where ironically, gun buyers don’t need a background check), then all visitors should be checked regardless of how long they will stay. And that would include prospective parents, UPS deliverers and your visiting grandma. There’s no sensible place to draw a line once you’re a card-carrying member of the Culture of Fear.

But now I’ve changed my mind. I think we can let the one-day visitors alone, but anyone who is going to be around the kids for a while and certainly any one who is an officially hired staff member of our school community must be fingerprinted. Because the kind of people we want to be around kids are those who recognize, pay heed to, converse with and purposefully nurture their native genius. For each of us is stamped with a unique genius that has never existed before and will never exist again. The fingerprint is a symbolic reminder of that unique individuality.

Only these people who are in conversation with their genius are capable of seeing the same in the children. And since education means to “draw forth and lead out,” the old understanding is that it is precisely this hidden genius that we are seeking to draw out. And that means that we should surround the children with people committed to living out their destiny, to being worthy of their fingerprints.

And then the background check. That means seeing what’s behind each person’s eccentricities and strange behavior and how it will be inextricably connected with their gifts. They may drive us crazy occasionally, but we want these people in our community. We want to check on the genius in their background and recognize its face. And though there may be strange aberrations, mostly genius is life-affirming and adding to the Soul of the World. It’s only dangerous to people and institutions that don’t like truth spoken— like the FBI, for example. So in my FBI check, anyone who doesn’t have an FBI record is under suspicion of being too timid and agreeing to damp down their voice so they don’t get in trouble. The Soul is always looking for trouble.

Mass culture wants obedience and ideological conformity and acceptance of dogma. All of which flies in the face of our unique individualities. So the “good citizen” is the one who sacrifices their possibility at the altar of comfort and conformity, while someone who follows their thread is dangerous because their consent can’t be easily manufactured and their consumer loyalty is not guaranteed. If they can think for themselves, they’re maddenly difficult to control and the whole game goes down.

In this last blog, I excerpted some phrases from a Rumi poem. Now I need some of those missing passages to make this clear:

The Power of Love came into me,
And I became fierce life a lion,
Then tender like the evening star.

He said, “You’re not mad enough.
You don’t belong in this house.”

I went wild and had to be tied up.
He said, “Still not wild enough
To stay with us!”

I broke through another layer
Into joyfulness.

He said, “It’s not enough.”

 Now that’s the kind of person I want as my boss! That's the kind of community I want to belong to!

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