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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 650)...

    I'm 14 years old, and i live in southeastern michigan. The main reason im writing you is because i cant get people to take anything involved with saving the earth seriously. when i say people i mean the kids in my class, but it scares me that if people take that attitude towards these kinds of issues then we're pretty well doomed. its not that i want to tell them how they should live there lives its that i want them to at least try to understand what were in for if we continue to treat our world this way. i am hoping that since most of them will have read ishmael by the time i go back to school, that it will have had some kind of impact on them. i dont really know what kind of response im expecting or if im going to get one, but i just wanted to see if there's any way i can get people to listen to me and you and all the others that seek freedom from the doom that is sure to come upon our world.

    ...and the response:

    This is one of the commonest complaints I hear from young people (and I was surprised to be unable to find any response to it in the Q&A section of the website, since I've dealt with it in dozens of replies to letters and emails). First, you have to remember what Ishmael told his student at the beginning: "If you take this educational journey with me, you're going to find yourself alienated from the people around you--friends, family, past associates, and so on." Well, he was serious about that, and many people find that they really are alienated from the people around them once they've taken this journey. Second, it's not really very surprising that few kids your age " take anything involved with saving the earth seriously"; they've heard nothing but the voice of Mother Culture, and Mother Culture insists that everything is just fine. Third, while you happen to be alone in your classroom in southeastern Michigan, you're not alone in the world; there are millions of people out there who share your concerns, and a great many of them are your age; read the Guestbook and you'll be convinced of this. Fourth, you mustn't allow yourself to be distressed about the people who won't listen and don't care; forget them and concentrate on the ones who will listen and do care; they're there, though it may take you a while to find them. Fifth, your classmates aren't going to remain cocky know-it-alls forever. As they get older and their experience of the world widens, they're going to start encountering people whose knowledge of what's going on here is much deeper than their own, and they're going to be forced to start listening (and caring). Sixth, be aware that you can never change people's minds by arguing with them; even if you silence them with your arguments, you haven't changed their minds, you've just made them into enemies.

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