Highlander

It was another gorgeous Fall Day, so of course EEA had to meet outside. And, it was a bit of a review day too, for the upcoming exam on Wednesday. So we had a suitably-rambling conversation about many things, including at one point the old Highlander Folk School on Monteagle Mountain, near the University of the South at Sewanee.  Paul Hawken writes, in Blessed Unrest,

The school was founded in the 1930s to help economically disadvantaged whites but by the early 1950s had begun to focus on civil rights. Horton, an admirer of Gandhi, used his school to train his pupils in how to achieve integration and civil rights.

A recent high school student’s project tells part of the story:

Peter Seeger tells some more of it:

They were really learning how to swim against the current, how not to lose heart in the face of resistance and ugliness, how to persevere and prevail. Gandhi didn’t exactly say everything he said (as Yogi Berra might put it), including the ubiquitous “be the change you wish to see in the world” slogan. But he did say

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

Same sentiment, slightly less bumper stickery. But only slightly. We need not wait. We dare not wait.

The Movement needs a new Highlander School, [Highlander Center] to coordinate all those shades of green Gus Speth mentions in chapter three, on his way to admitting that today’s environmentalism has won important battles– air and water are cleaner, since the ’70s– but is still “losing the planet.” It is not “articulating a vision of the future commensurate with the magnitude of the crisis.” Bottom line: the system is not the solution, “what is needed is transformative change in the system itself.” [Here again, that recent Speth Orion manifesto I mentioned...]

But that still has to begin with individuals becoming the change, doesn’t it? It has begun that way at least twice before in our recent history, in the grassroots of a Tennessee hilltop. Yes we can. Can’t we?

 

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