The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers
The Question (ID Number 542)...
I am around kids who will soon be ready to hear the things that you've written about in your books. I am also in college preparing to teach middle and high schoolers. What I'm wondering is whether it's a good thing for young people to actually have their worldview changed to one that is so diametrically opposed to those around them. Is the alienation I'd be giving them something that would make their lives less satisfying? Is the worldview I'm giving them one that would make their lives miserable? I agree 100% with the things you say in your books, but I wonder if sharing those ideas will do more harm than good for the individuals that take them in. For instance, when I held the traditional American view of life and the Judeo-Christian spiritual outlook I was on a path that I felt was very clear and I may have been happy to go along that path. But I had that mysterious feeling that something was off and Ishmael answered where that came from. But since reading Ishmael, I have no enthusiasm for our culture, for its traditions, for America, for education, for "success." I'm afraid that if I share my new way of looking at things, it will take away others' enthusiasm for such things. While I was happy to gain other goals from reading your books, I feel it's unlikely that any of those will be accomplished. So what's "better" for the kids-- letting them keep their mainstream goals or giving them a new vision with other goals altogether, but that will likely never be met and may lead to lives of desperation as they look at reality.
...and the response:
If you're one of those optimists (see Ishmael, page 109) who say, "We must have faith in our craft. After all, it has brought us this far in safety. What's ahead isn't doom, it's just a little hump that we can clear if we all just pedal a little harder. Then we'll soar into a glorious, endless future, and the Taker Thunderbolt will take us to the stars and we'll conquer the universe itself," then why in the world would you want to shatter the dreams of young people--or of anyone? If you really think that pedaling the Taker Thunderbolt will bring lifelong happiness to your students, then it would be almost criminal to introduce them to my work. If you honestly reckon that we can go on living this way for the indefinite future, then of course you shouldn't spoil anyone's fun by point out that our living this way drives as many as 200 species a day into extinction. And a final "if" . . . If you sincerely believe that ignorance is bliss, then why on earth do you aspire to be a teacher?
category: I'd Like Some Advice
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