Intentions drive our experiences, personally and collectively. Our thoughts cover a lot of ground, surveying the unlimited array of possibilities and then making choices about where we will put forth our active energies. Historically, those choices have tended toward serving the individual more than the collective. This was woven into our original design and remains important to our evolution. As human beings, we have been pushing the boundaries of our egos so hard that they have begun to take forms that are a grotesque distortion from our natural state of being.
Our intentions to thrive in a world where we feel at odds with so many people and things is the organic product of spending so many years building. We have been building families, communities, countries, governments, religions, businesses and LAWS, as well as the endless trail of things that accompany each of those pursuits. Stop for a second and imagine the lines of all of those roots, back to our beginnings. It’s truly mind-shifting, when you see how each choice has informed the next, over and over and over, bringing us to this very moment in time. For many of us, the ideas that we imagined have been realized, propelling us to seek greater heights and keep accomplishing more. Meanwhile, a large swath of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty, where meeting basic needs are the only intentions able to receive any focused attention. Our initial intentions to build our world were made without the wisdom or counsel of hindsight, rendering it a virtual Monopoly game from its inception.
Time and ‘ego emphasis’ have altered us at our very core, making us question ‘reality’ as we know it, and creating real barriers around feeling connected to something bigger than ourselves. The best of intentions can be derailed by the type of greed that can only be born of a desire for power and money; an aspiration to rule over others, as if we are superior to them. Esoteric knowledge has become such a popular value that most of us have been hardwired to perceive people who are more educated than us as somehow ‘smarter’ than we are, or at the very least, view them as a ‘separate class’ from us in some way. These differences have challenged our own self-image in ways that have created negative feelings around our degree of education, at nearly every level. How long has the “which is better, Yale or Harvard” argument played out, and why does it prevail?
Honestly, how few of us have a claim to (or need for) an opinion on the matter? I don’t know what the Ivy League was founded on, but today, I could have that answer if I want it. Thank you internet… What I do know is that when I received a ‘C’ on my first high school report card, it meant that I would not be attending any of those schools. It meant that I would have to find my place among the mix of ‘lower, regular’ people… you know, the dregs of society: non-Ivy Leaguers who hold Doctorates from ‘inferior’ institutions, or attended/graduated from a State University, a private College, a community college or those who were ‘lucky’ to finish High School, or pass a GED, or simply have the resources to learn how to read or drink clean water….I saw my life as ‘finished’’ before it had even begun, making it a bit more of a challenge to align with positive intentions.
In many ways, those beliefs crushed my quest for ‘traditional’ knowledge, but that’s been a recent insight for me. I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like to try things I’m not already good at, and this was a defining moment in my life where I began to see my own skill set as ‘lacking’. Until then, I was generally happy knowing the things I needed to know for my own life and ‘studying’ what seemed interesting to me. Suddenly, at 15, I became instantly convinced that I was not among the intellectual elite. Whatever ‘higher’ class I fancied for myself was slipping through my fingers and strangely, I felt myself becoming ‘separate’ from the other honors students in my class. I did not come from money and I wasn’t getting an Ivy League Scholarship, so my potential, in my mind, was limited–I was only 15!
The public school district I grew up in was better than good, and I recall that it won some awards as well. Did the intentions of the district support that type of elite thinking? I certainly didn’t get any notions about the Ivy League from my family, who valued junior college for those without a scholarship somewhere else. What intentions are set about college through the institutions themselves, and how does that vary through regional and economic differences? What led me to believe that anything short of the ‘best’ education wouldn’t make me a good enough human being? What effect do the types of intentions instilled by our educators have on the way we view our own intelligence?
Access to knowledge used to require a great deal more time and money than it does right now, and education has developed into practically whatever we want to make of it, so long as our intentions are in line with our passion and purpose. Formal education, as a whole, has taken its own twists and turns as the individual/collective battle has played out in every school district from sea to shining sea. The advantages have most generally gone to the wealthy, as the intentions of the ego have an established tradition of serving themselves. This has been our natural progression, even though we all know (or know of) many privileged individuals who have squandered their opportunities, failing to appreciate what they have been offered from the universe, unable to see the value play out in their experiences. The conditions of their lives, for various reasons, make them feel patently undeserving in some way, and they are unable to make good use of their advantage.
The tipping point of internet usage is debatable. Was it 1981, when we first began to use collective networks, or 1986 when they became mainstream to the academic world, or 1993, when the majority of us had access and soon developed a habit of ‘checking in’ with the melting pot of collective information? Opinions and facts, entertainment and heart-shifting events, data and results: each year, the available content has grown as companies clamored to ‘share their wares’ digitally. The behaviors and feelings that grew with these changes have become a literal web of information, available at our fingertips. It took some time to recognize what it all meant, and where we should place our intentions around it.
Newsgroups, Discussion Boards, and Data Storage encouraged efforts in censorship, pirating, and licensing. Criminals invented new and ‘better’ cyber-crimes and bullying became an online practice, as many people have chosen to use their voice to tear down others. Did we have specific intentions when we networked our knowledge bases? If we did, they weren’t made public. It has become a melting pot of intentions, and deciphering meaning has become a valued skill set. Imagine an attempt to classify everything that exists online? What would that effort even look like?
Seedy underbelly of the internet aside, when it comes to education, the playing field has experienced some leveling. No longer are we only as smart as the knowledge set we can retain and regurgitate. Most of us now have access to an educational tool that, if used for the purpose of education, can teach you as much - and more - than you could learn from an Ivy League school. The way we measure intelligence, knowledge and level of education can’t be far behind. Intentions, applied to learning, allow you to ‘shoot for the stars’ in a way that has never been as possible as it is right now…