Dys(U)topia

Truth - Reality is relative. The ways that we experience the world vary greatly. It is a testament to people being given the same knowledge or facts, and coming up with different conclusions. Absolute truth may not be quite so absolute. In the wake of a truly dramatic campaign season, the different realities we exist in has once again diverged. The divide from person to person seems to grow. Some are relishing in this brave new world, and others are struck with mortal fear. What thing that holds to be true is that no matter what or who we are, our lived experiences are valid. This is our Dys(U)topia.
 
"Perhaps the greatest utopia would be if we could all realize that no utopia is possible; no place to run, no place to hide, just take care of business here and now." Jack Carroll

Hope and peril. Dreams and nightmares. Awe and terror. This is the tale of two Americas and the multiplicity of realities in between. The day after an election is nothing but an almagation of a variety of experiences. While some are made to concede and accept defeat in their political campaigns, others celebrate the victory of a successful run  - the end of an all-or-nothing, winner take all, high stakes election season has come. Some rejoice and lay in wait for those that promised to advance their interests hold steadfast in their follow through while others grieve their loss, rally and organize, and prepare to endure this change for the time being. Smiles and tears. Cheers and jeers. Praise and critiques. We experience everything differently - no two people are the same.
 
The ways that we move through the world are unique to us. That is to say that there is not one way to experience life. That plurality of journeys is something that makes life both beautifully vivacious and simultaneously challenging. In times of real difference it is absolutely imperative that we treat each and every person with dignity and respect. It can be sincerely difficult, particularly when we believe people to be challenging our beliefs, our livelihoods, and our lives in general. We have to accept that what people endure is valid. We have to know that people's experiences are real. We have to know is just that ... all we know. Unity and sameness can be malignant just as easy as they can be benign. Individuality is critical to the human experience just as much as community is. We as humans are both part and parcel to humanity. It is our lifelong venture to explore how retain our ipseity while also navigating our communal nature. We must be vigilant in our relentless preservation our selfhood. We must also afford that same grace to others to be able to do the same. We may not always agree, nor do we have to but what we are obligated to do is afford the basic respect that we expect to others. We may feel like we live in a dystopia at times and at other times a utopia; it all depends on our perspectives.
 
From the outcome of the 2016 presidential election one thing has become sincerely clear - education and elitism is the most prominent issue plaguing communities nationwide. Barriers to economic opportunity, disenfranchisement, and educational droughts have to be dismantled. Post-secondary education and all its various pathways (traditional four-year, associate's degrees, certificates, apprenticeships, vocational training, etc.) to improving quality of life and bolstering the economy is a priority for everyone. It is in our best interest not only as individuals but as a nation to ensure opportunities for people to participate as fully as possible in the economy. It is only to our benefit that we give more points of entry and pave more ways for people to contribute to our increasing globalized economy, and society as a whole. Affordability, equity, and accessibility are issues for all to tackle. Education is critical, now more than ever. Knowledge can be our liberation or our enslavement. People nationwide are facing the harsh realities that they can barely continue to persist let alone exist without education that prepares for better paying jobs and allows them to live the life they desire. College is not for everyone, but anyone who wants to further their education should be afforded the means to do so. Those parallel pathways that can provide the education needed for technical vocations, blue-collar jobs, and allows students to use education to pivot into various careers. Education has to means to free people being stuck, feeling forgotten, or from becoming a "burden" to society
 
Education is a multifaceted issue that requires change in so many aspects. What is not productive is a traditional notion and a defeatist attitude when it comes to enacting change. If we all do our part we can truly revolutionize our country by providing quality education both K-12 and post-secondary for all to enjoy. The classist disparity between public school systems must be addressed. We can no longer continue on ignoring the massive gaps between public schools in low-income communities and those in middle or upper class communities. We cannot punish students for their familial socioeconomic status, where they were born, or their limited access to resources. We cannot further penalize teachers and their schools for the grim conditions in which they are expected to educate youth by reducing funding and divesting from community education. We cannot pretend that change will happen if we are unwilling to do the world to secure funding,  and redistribute property taxes or find alternative ways to equitably fund our K-12 schools. By underpreparing students we limit their chances to change their situations, to reach their full potential, and to give instead of takeaway from our collective social programs. We also that any education beyond high school has exponential potential to return dividends on lifetime earning potential, increased civic engagement, and multicultural appreciation. College may not be for everyone but that means there has to be a culture shift to validate people's experiences instead of discounting them. We have to judge people based on their abilities to perform rather than the pedigree of their educational attainment or their places of origin. We have to be willing to take chances, and teach people what they need to succeed. What world do we want to live in - one of opportunity or one of finality; utopia or dystopia - the choice is ours. X
 

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