Monday November 14th at 12:11 AM
By Judy Andreas
As a child, I was never encouraged to question authority, in fact, I was never encouraged to question anything. Each morning I would don my uniform of obedience and go to the local public school where teachers fed me from the daily trough of accepted truths. Ours was not to question why; ours was but to file in silently and assume an erect posture on our assigned perches.
I learned the game quickly but had a difficult time playing by the rules.
"Judy will never have higher than a B in CONDUCT," Mrs Lathe told my mother. "She talks too much."
Standing in the corner of the room did nothing for my ego (or my conduct.) It's not that I was afflicted with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or anything so glamorous. Those were the days before ADHD and the parade of trendy media diseases. It's not even that I was a disruptive child. My transgressions rarely exceeded whispering to a neighboring student or slyly passing the "notorious note" while I thought the teacher had her eyes safely focused on her nail file. But, glancing over her bifocals, she pounced on the crumbled paper which had missed the distant desk. "Judy?!" "Go to the back of the class!" And so, in the world of clasped hands and straightly sitting students, I was doomed to wear the Scarlet Letter B.
" It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." Albert Einstein.
As I grew older, though my questions found voice, they rarely found answers. I questioned my parents, I questioned my teachers, I questioned my religion, and, ultimately, I questioned the nature of reality. Nobody in my life seemed to appreciate the teenager with the big eyes ....always looking out at the world and asking "why?" Nobody appreciated the student with the big mouth who could not seem to remember that "children should be seen and not heard."
Tempus fugit and, through a series of predictable steps, I found myself cast in the role of wife and mother. My then husband also had difficulty understanding my "need to know."
"Why are you always searching?" It was my turn to field a question. "Why aren't you content just being a wife and mother?"
I loved being a mother, but there were certain aspects of wifedom (wifedumb?) that were akin to having my most precious part amputated....MY MIND.
My ex was a wonderful human being but was threatened by my intellectual pursuits. He felt, somehow, that they had the potential of destroying our relationship. The end came as he feared, though it was the attempted stifle that dealt the death knell. I could not be silenced. The part of me that, for lack of a better description, I will call my "higher self" stood behind me...pushing me forward, occasionally sideways and then forward once more.
I sought answers between the colorfully bound covers of books. In my early 20's, I fell in love with the writings of Wilhelm Reich and stayed faithful to him until Carl Jung entered my life. I was fascinated with Jung's archetypal world; sometimes referred to as dominants, imagos, mythological or primordial images. I read about the anima and animus, the trickster and, of course, the shadow. Jung felt that if you wanted to understand the jungle, you could not be content just to sail back and forth near the shore. "You've got to get into it, no matter how strange and frightening it might seem. " http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/jung.html
And so, I began my personal exploration of inner space. It was only a short trip (no pun intended) into mind altering experiences, which, by the way, included the worlds of metaphysics and mysticism. My explorations led me into the realm of unlimited possibilities and affirmed that "blind acceptance" was the dreaded demon that had possessed my educational journey.
A quick flip of the calendar and we have jumped forward to the year 2005. But have we really gone forward? As I read my email and listen to the news, I have nothing but questions. I question the cruelty and injustice in the world. I question the presence of a loving Creator and ask how such injustice could even exist. I look at the pictures of burned babies in Iraq and my heart burns with sorrow. The radio warns me about diseases and wars and endless terrorism. The Internet shows me pictures and articles about the plight of the Palestinians. I question how the Jewish people, with their cries of past persecution, can allow this to happen to even one other soul on the planet, no less an entire people. I question how we have created a world of hatred, competition, self absorption and bigotry.
Have I really moved forward? Perhaps not. For as I look out upon this world, I am keenly aware that there is something chillingly familiar about the landscape. I am back in my classroom but now it is populated by adults and Mrs. Lathe is no longer peering over her bifocals. She has learned to torture the students who step out of line. She has learned to imprison the people who have not memorized The New National Educational Manual of Martial Law. She has applied the shampoo of brainwashing to the heads of the obedient.
Questions are quickly becoming an endangered species and many of the students have caught on to the grim reality that questions, at this point in time, can have grave consequences . Grave consequences. But rest assured that they will be even worse if you remain silent.
Copyright 2005: Judy Andreas