Thank you Ontario; you welcomed me. This post is for you! My life in the old country qualifies me to say that diversity can either be a boon or a curse. It enriches if people can see their common thread enabling celebration of mutual differences in its light. Otherwise, it is a curse of strong “us” vs “them” identities eternally jostling, conflicting and even rioting. We can’t close our eyes; news are full of it. Fearful of our openness and multiculturalism being hijacked to fragment us, I humbly suggest that Ontario systematically incorporate meaningful teaching of our common ground into our curricula.
Canada is in support of the principles outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Is our education in accord with Articles 1, 2 and 26.2 of the UDHR? Canada is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Is our education in accord with Article 29 of this convention? (See addendum for the text of the articles)
The question of our common ground has been challenging great minds of all cultures. Search for it around the globe concluded long ago that an eternal, invisible and therefore unknowable and inexplicable spirit is the common ground of our infinitely diverse universe.
This spiritual wisdom is the foundation of world religion. However, a vast majority of us remain unaware of it, because it is veiled by our faith based doctrinal facades . Faith tends to replace the inexplicable common ground with explicable alternatives without clearly acknowledging the unseen spirit. This expediency explains how the one underlying spirit is seen by faith as multiple culture specific divine beings inescapably eclipsing the spirit and resulting in fragmented humanity.
Science is reason based. In its infancy, it rejected the spiritual wisdom also. Being reason and not faith based, science alienates religious faith. Following its characteristic empirical, verifiable, and objective approach, science too concludes that all matter exists because of an eternal, invisible, unknowable and inexplicable truth of infinite potential it calls energy. Historical alienation between science and religion results in minimizing the scientific wisdom of the underlying oneness of matter as a meaningless triviality.
Because of our persistent inability to see our common ground, human development remains inconsistent with our ancient spiritual wisdom as well as that of modern science.
All wisdom, spiritual and scientific, being a subject of rigour and reason is educational in nature.
Education is meant to examine hidden underlying truths without surrendering integrity to particular points of view. It is time now that the Academy live up to its true calling in the field of humanities and establish the truth of the inexplicable spirit-energy as our unifying common ground.
It must be noted that we cannot study our unseen common ground in itself; we can only study how it interfaces with our existence. It must also be noted that the resulting visualization of our underlying oneness is not an imposition of uniformity of religious practice or expression but an acknowledgement of the core spirituality of our own religions. All human values are included in this visualization and it is no threat to Canada’s multiculturalism; we have our religious institutions for specific cultural preservation.
Education in the unifying truth of spirit-energy at all stages of development can dispel the darkness of division. It can establish the importance of critical reason, promote all-inclusive identities, and integrate increasingly diverse Ontarians into a harmonious and coherent Ontario putting it in a position of Canada and world-wide leadership in the field of education in humanities as it already is in other fields.
Article 1 of UDHR:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Article 2 of UDHR:
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
Article 26.2 of UDHR:
“Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”
Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
“Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
(a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;
(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.”