Sunday, 2 October 2011

Failing Systems

Isaiah 58 is one of those passages where the prophet speaks out against fasting and Sabbath celebration if it is not linked with justice and caring for the needy. As I read, I thought of how hard our hearts are and just how much our systems focus on protecting personal wealth and promoting self interest. The cry for a more equal society is a call for a change to the way decisions are made but equality has more than just equal sharing of wealth.

I try to justify my own position through thinking about how I am looking at changes to the economic system but the reality is that I would be reluctant to have the homeless come into my home. I don't share what I have with those in need and to some extent ignore the requests for help. Am I any better than those in Israel who Isaiah spoke out against? I suspect not.

We are indoctrinated by our systems and self interest. Our priority isn't about addressing the needs of others. It is all about protecting and promoting our own status. As I think of access to education, our focus is upon improving the status of the university and not on equal opportunity. Would we be willing to provide opportunities to those who don't meet the entry standards or who have been cast aside by society? Surely equal opportunity is allowing all who seek to learn the opportunity to do so regardless of past achievement or ability to pay.

But equal access to education isn't enough if the door to employment is closed. In the UK, they talk of an employability statistic that reflects the percentage of graduates that end up in what are called graduate jobs. Does this statistic take into consideration the falling opportunities for employment? Our measures of success for the university promote continuance of the economic growth myth and the self interest of our systems. Could we establish measures that looked at how education promoted equality or change in the system? Critical thinking involves questioning current practice and to do that means being aware of alternative possibilities. What would a more equal society look like? How else can we measure progress? These are questions that we need to look at and act upon.

No comments: