Education for Liberation
This exercise addresses a process in the life of individuals that is influenced by the culture in which we live. This process, often called “the transition from childhood to adulthood,” has one distinguishing feature upon which this exercise focuses: this transition from childhood to adulthood is characterized by the development of a belief system or a value system. A value system is the set of principles by which a person guides her life, and it is the development of such which determines whether an individual has reached the maturity level associated with adulthood.
As the development of beliefs which guide one’s life is one indicator of maturity, this process does not always coincide with the years usually associated, in this culture, with childhood to adulthood — 15 years of age to 22 or 23. It may come at a time of deep trauma or drastic occurrences which bring about this development. Some would argue that there are many human beings walking around in their forties or sixties who have never really become adults — they have no system of beliefs, they live by no principles, and remain childlike.
There are four characteristics which determine whether a principle is part of your value system:
First, it must be freely chosen by you;
Second, it must be a positive affirmation. It cannot be a statement about what you do not like or what you think is wrong. It must be a statement about what you value;
Third, you must be proud of it and not scared about it; you must be able to say it to other people; part of the proof that you believe in it is that you can articulate it to others;
Fourth, you must be able to put it into practice. It is not part of your value system if you can only say it — you must be able to live it.
Amplifying on element #1: When as a child your parents bring you up as a Christian, this cannot be said to be genuinely part of the child’s value system. It was not freely chosen by the child — a child cannot freely make such a choice. When in adulthood this same adult-child has made the decision to live by Christian principles, to engage in her daily life the practice of living a Christian life, only this, the adult choice, can be said to be part of this person’s value system.
Amplifying on element #2: To say that one is against misogyny is not the expression of an aspect of a value system. It does tell us what you do not like, but to be part of a value system it must be an expression of what you are for — if you act on the belief in the value of women’s leadership, for women’s equality, and of women’s liberation, this is an expression of your value system.
Amplifying on element #3: When 9/11 hit U.S. daily life many Muslim Sisters, who normally wore Hijabs, took them off of their heads. They did this in reaction to the vicious attacks on Muslim women, who were identified as such by people who hate Muslims because of their Hijabs. This does not mean that these women were hypocrites for taking off their Hijabs. They still wore them in their Mosques and in their homes. They still practiced Islam. This element of a value system requires that you can articulate it to someone. If your principle cannot be told to any other human it cannot be said to be part of a lived value system.
In a three-part meditation each of you will explain what may be emerging for you as the set of values which guide you, or the principles you are considering to guide your mission in this life.
In part one we will discuss how did you arrive at these values?
In part two, each of you will state these values in clear terms.
In part three we will discuss the ways in which your behavior is determined by these beliefs — how are you living out these values in your daily life?