It seems there are mountains of information in today’s world. In so many forms.. how to know what is true and what is not? Lots of people seem to be learning, maybe more than ever, that the more we learn, there is more yet to be learnt. We try to understand, yet it’s all just our interpretations, perceptions, somehow guided by our beliefs.. Who’s to decide whose truth is true? Is there some “ultimate learning, ultimate understanding”? Can science explain everything – and what would happen if we Understood Everything? Maybe it’s the mystery that is so wonderful.. but that again is just one perception.
Some say it is this kind of learning, sharing and transformation, that we especially need to employ in this changing world. There is richness in unity, the way in which we may feel connected, feel that we’re sharing of ourselves with others and finding unity in this. And there’s the celebration of richness of differences. No two thing in the world seem to be the same.. and thus, everything is special, while being parts of the whole.
UNESCO published a document in 2015 about learning and education. This document was a central reading during a PhD week at Rhodes University I took part in some weeks back. It was discussed during the seminars and talks, and the topics carried through the days also in people’s minds..
Good life – that was the topic of one man’s speech. He discussed passionately how in his view “West” has defined in many ways, in many parts of the world, what is good, successful, or enough.. the feelings of these. For example, he mentioned how in South Africa people have over the time been relocated, they’ve lost their traditional lands, they’ve moved into cities.. how much of this was influenced one way or another by the notions of “good and bad”? Were they the individual people’s notions of good and bad or somebody else’s notions? In some ways, for many, it wasn’t or isn’t enough, good, and successful to milk cows and grow vegetables, anymore, but rather there are other notions of success. If something becomes very normal to a human being since the young age, how could it be that it wouldn’t take an honest big transformation for that to change, all the way through to the core?
I found this a touching topic. When someone else in any way defines what is good or bad, or enough, and one feels compelled to follow this, these may for individuals become personal struggles of a lifetime. Perhaps fulfilling a notion, reaching for a goal that may never have been “owned”, and so on. Sometimes these are just very delicate, intricate matters, ways and changes of behavior. And this may happen anywhere, in any society.
How might this influence, say, one’s relationship with nature..? Complex matters.. perhaps for someone, one way of being and working is not “enough” anymore because there are other ways of being that seem more acceptable or desirable. Living in a city, living in the country.. But isn’t a notion of “backwards” also just a notion, unless you truly and deeply feel that one way is not good while another is.
Who’s to say which things in life are fine to want or do and which are not?
Ultimately, no one else than you yourself. These are in any case interesting considerations when thinking of how masses are influenced, how individuals choose what they choose or value what they value. And how they consequently learn and live their lives.
I got to know some interesting pieces of research on nature connection, done in South Africa. Michelle Cocks from Rhodes did research on children’s play in their natural environments. It became apparent that though some of the traditional ways of being with the forest and with nature prevail, in an ever-changing manner, some behaviors have also greatly been influenced by several factors: in some places, children are not as keen as before on exploring the natural surroundings and playing in them because these places have become less safe. There are not always as many forests and natural areas for frequent use as there were before, and so, any practical uses or perhaps spiritual ceremonies that took place in these places are changing. If one thinks about it, many natural areas, National Parks, and so on, have been fenced off or movement is restricted by costs of entry.
It makes me ponder on how very fortunate in fact the children in Scandinavia are for example, for having such extraordinary possibilities of exploring rather freely in their natural environments, though concerns of safety do greatly influence what children are allowed to do and what not, even there. Indeed, some psychologists believe it is rather wonderful for a child to grow feeling free, safe and able to explore their surroundings in a manner which is best for them. In what manner this can take place may have implications for one’s development.. development of responsibility, sense of self-worth, sense of care and compassion.
If only it were up to each and every one to define their selves in this manner. If it were encouraged, allowed.. and if more people took the responsibility for it, upon growing up, and led the lives only their deepest selves know they can lead.
It is one side of things what the children are inherently inclined to do and explore, and yet another how society, people around, habits and customs influence the further development of the person and their relationship with nature and other people.
Maybe this is what transformational learning is about, that was keenly discussed in that UNESCO document as well. How to (re)claim one’s self and one’s life. How to do this and at the same time allow everyone else to do this? In great unity and rich diversity. Great peace and tolerance. (and how often are we struggling a bit to find peace and love even for ourselves not to speak of everyone and everything else. 🙂 Yet that’s what people throughout the ages have striven to do.. )
The role of teachers, mentors and parents, friends and even strangers (as everyone can be a teacher) may then be quite crucial, for us all, on our journeys.
Globalization has clearly led to some sharpening of differences in peoples’ minds.. yet it has also led to surges of peace and tolerance. Not one without the other in this world.. There are many ways of Good Life. May us all remember this as we go, kindly and patiently practice the ways we choose, and learn to gracefully flow with the changes of life.