In an Environmental Psychology class, maybe 8 years ago, we explored effective ways to reconnect with nature, our surroundings, and others with whom we share space. Globally speaking, we all share space. How we come to view ourselves in relation to nature is a product of time, cultural influences, geo-political power plays and other factors – both internal and external.
One increasingly observable factor involves the implementation of institutional/political agenda-driven policy in education.
The history between human relationships and nature is evidenced through architecture, city planning, art, fashion, waste management, child-rearing practices, literature and many more facets of life – and death. Ralph Waldo Emerson influenced sentiments of peace and inclusion with nature, introducing the transcendentalist movement in the mid-19th century. The social media of that era comprised a much smaller sphere of influence, based upon literacy rates and social constructions. The westward expansion of the United States was successful in part because those who set forth were confident in their ability to navigate nature. Manifest Destiny, a term coined in 1939 by a journalist in the Democratic Review, became a widely held belief that settlers were “destined” to expand across North America. Historian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of “a sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example … generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven”. Imagine that. Longing for a new heaven, as social propaganda.
Today, not so. There are certain factions of Americans who seem to be at “war” with multiple, intersectional aspects of nature. Climate change is an issue that is modern, contentious and often high-jacked for monetization, political influence and social power. Another current and escalating social trend is the influence of a “nanny state” which seeks to regulate and administer intellectual thought, physical contact and ideological beliefs about our relationship with nature as a whole. The whole of nature includes both the benefits and the danger to personal and other property. Is is ironic that after a protest or rally, photos on social media often emerge of the garbage and damage left behind? Thinking about the Dakota pipeline event. I’m wondering if the organizers consider that “collateral damage”? To further the irony, the printed signs, banners, food containers, etc. have contributed to “carbon footprints”, and these participants don’t really care enough about their immediate environment to tend to it.
Is it their fault, or a lack of awareness about matters outside their immediate focus that has been institutionally reinforced?
Another case-in-point: A teacher posted to social media her lament about resigning only a few years into a career she thought would be passion. She shared how teachers are forced to supplement their meager budget for supplies of pencils, paper and basic necessities, while also posting a photo of the destruction left each afternoon in her classroom. Photos included books ripped and mangled, broken teaching aids, and damaged school-issued electronic devices. Because teachers are not allowed to discipline these children, due to guidelines that support a ridiculous school rating system tied into funding and an employee’s performance matrix, the lack of self-awareness and personal responsibility of millennials will escalate.
Perhaps this is a component of a larger, seemingly well-orchestrated sentiment that threatens to dominate our society?
The Advanced Placement edition of “By The People: A History of the United States”, published by Pearson, includes in it’s 2019 edition libelous claims that President Trump is an open racist, and he only got elected because most of his voters are also racist. What in the world? Taxpayer-funded education has gone completely rogue – and “Bad Nanny”.
Pennsylvania State University recently made the decision to banned the student outdoor recreation club from going outdoors…a “proactive risk assessment” decided by the officers of Student Affairs and Risk Management. Hiking, camping and other outdoor activities organized by students who are old enough to attend college, drive a car, vote, go to war and such are deemed too dangerous. So, this institution of higher learning allows sexual abuse to flourish in their sports programs, but denies students the benefits of activities that promote self-reliance, time-management skills, social and environmental awareness and inclusion based not on political affiliations and academic interests, but a love of exercise, outdoors and camaraderie?
Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Godparents…
Everyone who has a stake in the future of our American experience: there is much ado about much that has to do with how are children are being manipulated by a political agenda that needs attending to.