At the epicentre of unschooling is a ‘do no harm’ philosophy; or as the Mayan say to great each other: ‘In Lak’ech’, which means ‘I am Another You.’ And so we face the morning sun and greet the start of a new day, or we turn to our fellow human and say ‘In Lak’ech’. And when the sun goes down each night we can ask ourselves – Have we treated the people in our life how we would want to be treated? Have we treated the earth kindly, knowing we are in a reciprocal relationship together? Have we treated ourselves with the care and respect that we deserve?
Only when we listen and act on our own mind-body needs can our compassion branch out and touch the lives of those around us – whether human, animal or plant – without uprooting us first.
We are each other, and nature is us. Your health is my health, and the earths health has a direct impact on ours. But we have learned the lie of separation, driven apart by competition and greed. We have had our innate connection to all living things, including our connection with ourselves, our instincts, schooled out of us.
It is because of this disordered connection that we can watch a 250 year-old tree be cut down and say ‘it’s just a tree’, or we can turn away from a friend in need because we don’t have the time or energy to help them.
What I find exciting is that it is our culture, not our genes that profoundly change the way we think, behave and view the world. And even more thrilling is that societal norms can be changed remarkably fast – cultural norms that have existed for millennia can be changed in months.
I am more convinced than ever that a cultural shift towards radical compassion is part of the front-line of ecological and climate change action and that unschooling alongside a rise in socially just educational settings, represent a powerful way to short circuit our current patriarchal and colonial cultural wiring.
In these difficult and divisive times, can we reach out to someone with compassion? And if we feel unable to do that, what can we do to stabilise our own roots?