Sometimes I forget why I want to do what I want to do in life. In short, I want to spend my life making education accessible to people globally. Why? Because everyone has a voice, and too often groups of people are marginalized because they don’t have access to education and so are not respected in the world, or because the education system has been created by people who don’t understand them and so doesn’t work out like it’s supposed to. That’s not right. It’s not right that people don’t have a voice and so their needs are misunderstood or ignored.
I got really good at saying this and therefore knowing that’s what I wanted to do, but I admittedly forgot why I was saying this until this week. And it started in a politics class during my sophomore year of college, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I took the class somewhat unwillingly–politics scared me. I wanted to take sociology to fulfill my human sciences requirement, but the course either filled up, or didn’t work in my schedule, I don’t remember. I ended up in Perspectives on Political Order, and it scared me.
One of the textbooks for that class was Al Wolters’ Creation Regained. It was actually one of the few textbooks I didn’t purchase and just borrowed from a roommate (I wish I’d purchased it). You can read a summary of the book here. In short, the book discusses redemption through Christ not only for us, but also as an act of moving the world into right relationship with God. The world includes things like the physical world, but also social constructs and everything God has created. Wolters asserts that everything created by God was good and has been tainted by sin, and Christ’s redemption was not just for human salvation, but the salvation of the world (Dad, please don’t pick holes in my theology…I know it’s not perfect).
I don’t think I fully grasped the impact of the book until I started teaching in a low-income school district where the effects of racism still ran deep. As I grew frustrated with the fact that the system didn’t work for my students and how I as a teacher would be measured by inappropriate teaching standards, I grew indignant and angry. I wanted to be done.
One evening I was speaking with someone about teaching, and I brought up my faith background, then began to spew out how angry I was about how ridiculous the school system and testing requirements are and how my students were being treated unjustly and as a result it wasn’t fair.
“Lauren, what does your faith say you should do about that?” she asked.
I stopped. “I mean, it says I should do something about it,” I stammered, a little sheepishly. How could I say otherwise, when Christ has called us to bring justice to the world?
Suddenly, Wolters’ book made just a little bit more sense. An unequal education system is one of those things that has been corrupted by sin, and we have a responsibility to transform it in order to provide everyone with the quality of life they deserve as human beings. And I knew I couldn’t just turn my back on it. Having seen the impact that such inequality had on my students just wasn’t right.
That doesn’t mean I know exactly how to change the education system. But I want to learn, and help make it happen.
I’d forgotten this.
This past week I attended a lecture at my alma mater. I was walking back into the building afterward and ran into my professor from my politics course. I wasn’t really expecting him to remember me–I was one in about 30 students from a gen-ed class five years ago. But impressively, he did (kudos to my small Christian liberal arts college faculty!). A day later he’d sent me an article about Wolters’ Creation Regained. As I read through it, I remembered why I do what I do.
You should probably read Creation Regained–you just might find a new meaning for the work that you do.