Being Responsive to Those Who Suffer Most

November 24, 2015

This past August, I participated in an incredible learning experience at the Academy for Contemplative and Ethical Leadership. The focus for our learning was, what would leadership look and feel like if, across all sectors and roles, it were responsive to those who suffer most? This is an incredibly big question. There are so many dimensions of how to define suffering, and then to define the levels of suffering and most significantly, the strategies of response.

And, the question holds a paradox of simplicity. How would our lives, systems and communities change if we cared about improving the life experience for everyone?

The educator and the educational system has great opportunity to hold this paradox for each child and the community it serves.

Child: If the learning system revolved around the relief of suffering, each child would learn that he/she is important. They would learn that each person is important. The child would learn to be in service of others and know that others want to be in service of him/her. The child would hold a truth that everyone is important and we are in community through an ebb and flow of opportunity and suffering.

Culture: If the learning system revolved around the relief of suffering, the culture would revolve around creating opportunity. The culture cares about the needs of the people it serves and seeks the ability to improve conditions. The culture will call upon each person to build up the other.

Content: If the learning system revolved around the relief of suffering, the content students learn would be purposeful for an improved way of life. Knowledge would be shared thoughtfully. Inquiry would drive learning and students would think through core tenants and evolving needs.

What we know as school and school systems would be obsolete.  If we taught and learned in service of improving the lives of others, our experience of school will be open, fluid, welcoming and dynamic.

Our new field of schools would genuinely invite all to enter.

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