Monday, February 27, 2017

Those who can, do, those who can’t teach. REALLY?

This paraphrased quote from George Bernard Shaw (actual quote: “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”)  is frequently used to demean teachers and ridicule their efforts while lauding the doing part of life over the teaching part of it.  The problem with the statement is that no one has the slightest idea what actually constitutes a “doer” and what constitutes a “teacher”. 

Is a doer an action hero? An activist? An inventor of new things? A re-creator of old things in new skins? A person who exploited thousands to salt a few million francs away?  A person swollen to the gills with achievement in action? All of those? Some of those? None of those? 

Is a teacher an instructor in a skill? An imparter of knowledge? An educator? A trainer? A parrot of things heard casually and remembered with difficulty? A person swollen to the gills with achievement in qualification? All of those? Some of those? None of those?

See also, Accomplishment must come at the cost of achievement

In the modern reading of those two terms, it is not that hard to figure out that both arise from a base of two fundamental commons. Two foundation cornerstones. 

One, self-servitude, the other, ego.  

Once this is understood, it is not that hard to understand that both the so-called doer and the so-called teacher are basically doers – doing for themselves, their self-enhancement and their self-aggrandization only. The sum result of that effort, regardless of the label attached, is transitory and fleeting, largely destructive and mostly useless. We have seen that over the last few centuries in the horrors we have visited upon ourselves and our planet due to such self-centered ideas of what constitutes action and education within this questionable framework of endeavor we call civilized behavior. Behavior which, antithetically, actually breaks apart human groupings and mocks the very word, destroying civilization while claiming to be its developers and its growers and its consolidators. After four centuries of this madness, all we have to show for ourselves is a large number of buildings, an equal number of machines and a comparable number of degrees and qualifications. When these are combined with dysfunctional families, fragmented societies, infighting, cross-fighting, world-wars, disasters upon disasters mostly made by our own hands, we must recognize the painful truth that our doers and teachers have failed us.  We have only managed, by our action, by our instruction, to create the conditions that may well lead to the death of us all. 

Where did we go wrong?  Well, many things but greed, primarily. Greed in one exists to pull everything to oneself and remove everything from everyone else (1% at the top use more resources and wealth than 57% at the bottom!). The imbalance of energies, potencies and dynamics created by a civilization founded on greed cannot sustain as we are seeing now. 

Here is a brief litany of our insanity: 250 major wars since WWII and 49 ongoing, 23 million people killed, more children killed in wars over the last decade than soldiers, three out of four casualties of war women or children, 9 million people incarcerated, a third of the global labor force (1 billion people) unemployed or underemployed, 20 million people in bonded labor,   8.4 million children trapped in the most abhorrent forms of child labor - slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, prostitution and pornography, 1 out of 6 (246 million) children between the ages of 5 and 17 in child labor, women constituting 70% of those in poverty, extrajudicial executions in 47 countries and disappearances in 37 countries, detention without charge in 66 countries, prisoners of conscience in 78 countries, half the world (3 billion people) in poverty, 800 million without proper healthcare, 75 million children never attending or completing primary school education,  870 million of the world's adults illiterate, 3 million people dead of HIV every year, half of the forests that originally covered 46% of the Earth's land surface gone, 30% of the world’s freshwater species extinct, 250 million people affected by desertification and 1 billion at risk, temperature rise expected to be 3 degrees over the next 100 years. 

The master species has taught itself to do these wonderful things to themselves and their world

We, killing off our world, must ask ourselves: Is this our great human race? Is this our fantastic civilization? Is this the group that claims to be overlords of all things, ideas and life? Can we call this type of intent to hurt, this type of desire to inflict pain and suffering, this type of action to exploit, pillage, corrupt, damage, rape, murder and destroy “doing”? Can we call the type of instruction that led to this type of destruction “teaching”?  

I will not answer those questions because the answers are not convenient or right to the majority of the people on earth. Hell, they created this craziness and they are pretty happy with it, right? Unashamed, this peopled earth has stripped itself naked and is not at all upset that it stands so, unclothed, for all to see. We, flensed of cover, see value in lying, cheating, thieving, manipulating, conniving and murdering. We, bereft of shields, see value in driving ourselves to the grave and making certain we take everyone else alone with us for the ride. 

There doesn’t seem to be much that anyone can do about this mess but I can certainly state my claim as to what constitutes  doing and what constitutes teaching. It is simply this: None who can do for the good of all will ever stop short of doing, and none who do so stops short of teaching what was done for the benefit of all. 

Against that rule, real doing upholds all sentient life, regenerates all sentient life, succors all sentient life, protects all sentient life, makes content all sentient life, makes joyous all sentient life. Even if such doing costs the doers their own lives.  They will never say what they have done until they have done what they have said. Then, if they survive the life-giving tasks they have set themselves, they will proceed to teach everyone else how to do the same. True doing is then the antithesis of the vulgar idea of doing and, by extension, the vulgar idea of teaching. 

That, friends, is a terrible truth to swallow. For most people it is a truth that is impossible to digest. Every indicator of what most people have decided is good points in the diametrically opposite direction. To acknowledge this truth is to acknowledge the fact that there are very few people who can do in this world, and very few people who can teach in this world. To acknowledge it is to understand that the chances are high that one has never been either a doer or a teacher regardless of how one labels oneself. It is to acknowledge that it is only the true doer who can truly teach and that the chances are that one does not fall into either category. 

SO……? Be it! 
I cannot apologize for exposing the naked shame of the human race because I value above all else, the fact that I have been the happy recipient of the knowledge of doers who taught. I have been the beneficiary of a few “disaapaamokh anduras”. Men and women who have been holistically enabled doers who then spoke as empowered and envisioned teachers  - or knowers of the ten directions - or those who have practiced the sum total of all there is to practice and are thereby bound to instruct others in the same.  

The great doer-teacher, Disaapaaamokh Dronacharya instructs his student Arjuna to become the greatest bowman the world had ever known

To have known the true quality of the doing teacher is to know the misery of what passes for both doing and teaching as they are cognized these days.  Within a mangled value system, few will get a chance for engaging in anything that sustains, regenerates and rejuvenates our earth, its plants, its animals and its people. 

I can look forward... with misplaced hope perhaps... to our young. We have already shot ourselves in the head while shooting the world in the foot. Having seen the darkness we have bequeathed to our children through our action and our instruction, I can only hope that our 25 something kids will reject everything they saw us do and redact everything they heard us teach and start afresh in their approach to human effort and what constitutes true quality in those exercises. 

It is perhaps a fools hope. Perhaps it is a quiet desperation. Perhaps it is an acknowledgement of "Oh my God... what have we done...  Dear God... what are we telling our children to do?".  

But I do hope that they will know that those who walk their talk will also talk their walk and, instead of making silly statements of no merit, change Bernard Shaw’s saying to “Those who can truly do, can truly teach” .

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For those of you who want to know...