Following our higher calling

People’s studies at some point in school, high school, or at the college and above level are sometimes referred to as higher education, study to a higher calling. That study, we are made to think, is engaged in by the student in order to try to be hired or somehow able to do work that is not considered onerous, in order to make a living; to be able to look forward to among several benefits, not having to work long hours, to be able to do for example, what I was able to as a measly typist clerk at Morgan Stanley 60+ years ago, work 9-5 as an 8 hour day which included lunch.
One day at lunch I marched with everyone around the Post Office/Federal Building for clemency for The Rosenbergs. I stayed longer than an hour and was not docked or chastised. I was, though, a pretty low-level office clerk.
Soon after, the 8 hour day more and more officially became me/everyone at the desk or factory line et al. working 8 hours a day, permitted an hour or a ½ hour off for lunch …– so, 8 ½ – 9 hours at the job site. Plus the hour each, there and back to get to the job.
Schooling is touted as how to find some relief from the slavery labor we’re permitted here on our Owners’ plantation, including most often even running our own business. ‘Wage slaves’ is not a joke. We have to go on to ‘higher education’ in order to get work that is variously more respectable, more meaningful, and less taxing on us. In 1963 I finished the training, to teach at the elementary – 1st-8th – grades. I owed $800 I’d borrowed to pay for it; excusable if I’d do teaching for 5 years, which I did. Following a higher calling – going on to ‘higher education’ is directly connected to being able to get the financing; that’s now largely reverted to being able to borrow it. Higher schooling got made so much more expensive, relatively, enabling lenders to make those huge profits off of our needing to borrow in order to get college level study.
The most respected schools – schools from which graduates are hired into the most prestigious jobs – cost extremely large sums. Following a higher calling is staying in school long enough, paying enough, to get training and the accompanying degree/s so to be seen as employable in a position the student tries to get, actually wants. My daughter wanted to study to be hired to do accounting, and did. (notice I keep not saying ‘be a teacher’, ‘be an accountant’… Can you figure out why I do that? Yes, it’s like not wanting to ‘be a consumer’, wanting us all to BE people and all that can imply instead.)
I, by the opposite example of people with declared studies they seem to want to do in order to be hired in certain positions, went to college – after an unwanted pregnancy – whoops!, my mistake, – and a divorce – whoops again, – to get certified to do school teaching. I long before, when I was 7 or 9 I remember, vowed not to be a teacher. The memory rests at a handsome toy my folks were bestowed for me, a roll-top desk – wood, with a matching small chair. I’d sat my cousin at it with pencil and paper and tried getting him to do some school exercise. He shortly got up saying he didn’t want to and walked away. The realization I didn’t want ever to ‘be a teacher’ didn’t occur immediately. But it did stamp on my mind soon around then.
School is the system’s control device. It is prevention of us living, learning within living, the classroom instead as an adjunct to experience rather than the pretense of experience or work, instead of actual production. The way to correct the problem is for us all to have jobs, all to produce necessities including ideas, pleasures, all our stuff, from the time they can get to it – at 10a.m. walk a ½ a block to some friends’ place to help pick up stuff around the house fifteen minutes every Tuesday, Saturday – when person is 2 years old; expected to come do that job – or any job the child finds to do and says s/he will do. And do it all day, if they want, if whatever job it is could take all day – or every day all week … But some job we know needs to be done that rises because we’re within the circumstance where the work arises.
These are unknown in the for-profit world. Because in this arrangement, our work is largely for our Owners’ benefit. THey don’t want us to figure that out. Thus school.
Education however, is being together at the many occasions where people fix and make and take care of our living. It’s sitting around and walking and running and sliding and teeter-totter-ing and researching a biology issue and everything. People learn because they’re there and in one way or another they care to. Among the population on site are people who’ll teach some of it because of other people who want to know some of it but don’t. Among the back and forth exchanges and maybe discussions ideas and topics arise that give rise to study of a calculus or a history literature art science gym health …., those commodities co-opted into school, extracted from the content of life into a saleable commodity purveyed by a person become a teacher.
Some come to need reading about them, and to be written about to tell oneself or someone something from the study. People sit down and study it like any instruction class, or work the situation, which becomes the teaching and learning – and leads to research – because we all always want to know – and yes, we’re ALL philosophers and intellectuals and geniuses. You’d see we are…
Now we are confined by financial constraints. Our brilliance – our natural quest – is suppressed by the need to get enough and more to live on, to provide for self and family, eventually to provide for an aged/aging self, a terribly expensive time; a time when earning income can become less or not possible. Setting aside a sufficient amount to survive old age is too challenging.
We make do with finding a work place opportunity, more often lately one position after the other, as one job type fades – the rug gets pulled out from under us – and another must be found. These are not job satisfaction. In capitalism “all that is solid melts into air”. It’s why you can’t find the soap that was always(ish) in this aisle of the store; they’ve moved it – so you can walk around and likely make an unplanned purchase of something you see while looking for the soap you came to get.
Not doing work that is meaningful, work we find pleasant, is frequent, usual, destructive. It’s that disorder that causes the alienation that makes us ‘go in search of ourselves’: Who am I?   What am I doing here? What is the meaning of life, of my existence? Where can I go to find these thing out? Living a productive life from our earliest age obviates these concerns. The ‘answers’ – the questions don’t even need to be asked – are lived experiences. Reason becomes self-evident.
In the for-profit structure, getting a job we do find worthwhile still comes to be done in uncomfortable conditions. Too many hours away from dear ones. Away from preferred activities for no good reason. The good job most often takes on boring characteristics, as well. And always, low pay compared to The Rich, which, while we say it doesn’t bother us, and often as far as getting along for a small number of people, getting vacations, and schooling for children, and comfortable housing, and easy ability to buy a dozen eggs, we’re doing ok. But we wonder why there’s a strain of those teeny few people who sit on literal piles of dough; we see that that happens as a result of abuse of Earth and our labor and are reasonably aggravated by that discrepancy. There ARE jobs which we’d rather work than do anything else. Scarce, but they do happen – at least for a while – until they become excessively taxing or not necessary any more, – as I’ve described.
There are actual ‘higher calling’ circumstances, for a teeny few workers. We know these throughout our time in school. These become oppressive to us as we go through school with the increasing awareness of the futility of our efforts, the coming drudgery, to follow the drudgery of getting through the schooling required in order to find relief from the lower orders of drudge work – the getting up each day – struggling out of bed with not enough sleep, the preparation ritual, the costly push to get to the job (in the advanced capitalist structure – and where people live in bantustan-like locations in relation to the location of the job) – we pay a great deal of money to be allowed to ‘work’, to not follow our ‘higher calling’, but on the whole, to maintain our Rich, our Ruling Class. All our work is related to our Owners’ control, THeir profiteering off of all facets of our lives. This regardless the fortune of money we spent getting the college degree.
Work to resist this relationship and to oppose this order of society is exceptional and undermined not only by low- if any pay, but by laws. Our Owners make laws against us working to stop THeir damage to us/Earth. Take another look at our Constitution.
We can work against that opposition to us leading pleasant lives. It’s hard. But there’s nothing else. Utopian struggle is all that remains. Going along, getting along – those are not even our choices….

normaha@pacbell.net

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