Fleeting Power


January 14, 2020, Peach Springs-

The Colorado River flows, past a point about ten miles from where I sit.  If I were to follow Diamond Springs Road to its terminus, I would be able to stand and witness the power of this still mighty flow.  The Colorado’s power helped to carve out the massive series of gorges that envelop it.  The Grand Canyon itself has an intense set of powers, all its own.

So, it is ironic, to the nth degree, that the people living in its midst have come to feel powerless, for much of their existence within the framework of the most powerful country of the past 1 1/4 centuries.  The Hualapai and their near neighbours, the Havasupai, know the Canyon more intimately than anyone, with the possible exception of the Dineh (Navajo).  Until about ten years ago, though, the Hualapai enjoyed very little of the economic benefits of the Grand Canyon’s drawing power.  The tribe has established a set of West Rim attractions-a Sky Walk, Eagle Point, and a rafting enterprise, as the Colorado can be accessed from a point on the Reservation.  There is also the comfortable Hualapai Lodge and a fairly well-stocked, if somewhat pricey Walapai Market.

I can tell people who feel powerless, from their language- an inordinate reliance on profanity and pejoratives as their means of projecting force.  The louder and more frequently a person curses; the more often someone is dismissive of people who are different from self, the more there is compensation for one’s own perceived irrelevance.

I’ve seen that, in many places-and I see it with several of the children with whom I’m working here.   That, alone, makes the 1 1/2 months I am likely to spend here, extremely urgent.  Not only building them up, but helping to establish a framework for long-term success, have to be primary goals.

Power derived from deception and intimidation is fleeting.  The Hualapai can no longer afford to rely on this means to power.

The Road to 65, Mile 144: Education


April 21, 2015, Chino Valley- After a frenetic day of rushing here and there, I found myself in a sublimely beautiful, rustic part of town.  Here, among some well-intentioned, but rather judgmental individuals, I enjoyed a tour of the organic farm, and a delicious, varied vegetarian meal, while doing my best to observe silence.

Then, the discussion turned to education.  Some representatives of one of the area’s least progressive school districts were bemoaning the lack of interest in things like organic farming, art and music, shown by their peers and the community’s parents.  These people exuded powerlessness.

That set me to thinking- exactly what is education, and what is it not?  So, here are my thoughts, few of which I saw fit to share with the group last night, given their own rather narrow minds.

Education is:  Observation– Pestalozzi, Audubon, Einstein- in fact, just about anyone associated with achievement, throughout history, has begun his/her quest with keen observation of their surroundings. and expanding outward.

Note-taking- The observer takes copious notes of what is experienced.  No one can commit all the essentials of an experience to memory.

Synthesis-  Distilling “wheat from chaff”, so to speak, gives us the tools for adaptation.

Application- What makes our species a surviving species is the ability to make good use what is observed and internalized.  The same could be said for microbes, but we have been given the role of stewardship.

Wonder- I will never be done exploring, and hopefully, neither will the best of students.

As to what education isn’t:

It is not Test-taking, for its own sake; repitition; blind imitation.  “Teacher (or Coach, Principal or parent) says so” doesn’t work, once one is past the age of seven, if it even works that well before then, except in cases of personal safety.  Basing our education practices on a misunderstanding of how education works in China, Singapore or South Korea (which has the highest suicide rate, among teenagers, in the developed world), is just throwing good resources into the money and energy pits.

Those are thoughts which went through my head, and which I chose to keep to myself this evening, while in the presence of self-styled heavy hitters.