We live in a paradigm in which our longings represent something to be acquired from the without. And I don’t imagine this comes as a surprise to anyone.
Starting with birth, our learning of this paradigm begins. Even as babies, we are imagined to be blank slates, empty vessels, whose fundamental need is to acquire, to the point that we devised entire institutional structures whose purposes include the supposed filling of these blank slates, these empty vessels, with the ways and wisdom of the world, a paradigm in which they all-too-often spew forth eighteen years later not as free thinkers but as homogeneous automatons, prepared to preserve and protect the comforts of those who created them.
And we celebrate this filling of these blank slates, these empty vessels, by calling it education. Thank God we’re evolving in this arena.
Maybe in our developing years it can be said that we learn to acquire people. Adolescents can be dangerously tribal little snots for whom the acquisition of authority, power, belonging through the acquisition of people is common. More friends. More allies. More comrades. We assign each other as pawns in complex games played for selfish victories, each move having a victim who is relegated to the side of the board.
If you haven’t yet reached out to that kid who sat alone in the corner of the lunchroom, today might be your day. Even then, you knew something was wrong.
We clamor to sit at the right table with the right kids, exchanging doughnuts for dollars, exchanging gummies for grades. But lunch tables have a way of becoming board tables and still we clamor to sit at the right table with the right kids, exchanging authenticity for acceptance, exchanging character for comfort, exchanging soul for solvency, exchanging a life for a living.