Going to School

What life is like when there is no rule of law, no security, no strong-enough central government, no one able to keep the strong and cruel and violent and selfish from preying on everyone else. Thrasymachus world. Thug world, warlord world, Mafia world, feudal world, give me that world, extortion world. Do what I say or I’ll hit you with a stick or cut you with a knife or shoot you world. Nightmare world.

Escalating attacks by the Taliban and other armed groups on teachers, students and schools in Afghanistan are shutting down schools and depriving another generation of an education, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Schools for girls have been hit particularly hard, threatening to undo advances in education since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001…Human Rights Watch found entire districts in Afghanistan where attacks had closed all schools and driven out the teachers and non-governmental organizations providing education…Afghanistan’s rapidly growing criminal networks, many involved in the production and trade of narcotics, also target schools because in many areas they are the only symbol of government authority.

How we take education for granted. I certainly did when I was a child; I would have preferred to stay home to read fairy tales and wander the fields and woods all day. But then I’d never had men with knives and sticks and guns telling me I couldn’t go, or beating me up or throwing acid in my face if I did go, or murdering my teacher. I think of my teachers…and I just imagine that experience.

Well, at least the contrast is stark; at least we know what side we’re on; even the most infatuated, the hand-wringers about consumerism or alienation or other crimes of modernity, know what side they’re on. On the one hand thugs, bullies, crime, violence, preventing people from teaching and learning. On the other hand education. Learning, growing, expanding, thinking, discovering the world. But the thugs are winning.

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