Education is the way to achieve far-reaching results, it is the proper way to promote compassion and tolerance in society. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
The quote starts out discussing education as a great way to achieve long lasting and far reaching results. A formal education system allows a society to reach pretty much everyone and provides a way to instill cultural and social values in all of the citizens.
Anything can be done to advance good, or to advance ill. Education, in this quote, is cited as the proper method to promote to an entire society the values of compassion and tolerance. Note that the quote doesn’t say to force these values on a population. That’s part of good vs ill in the use of formal education.
Compassion and tolerance are very useful foundational blocks for a well functioning society. They allow for openness and freedom. They allow for dissent and lively discussion of issues. They allow disagreements to be handled well, and not result in civil strife (or is that un-civil, by definition?).
Why is education important?
Education is the action which implants ideas or skills in the mind of another person. It even works in animals. Consider the difference between a dog which has been taught to be a service dog and one taught to fight. Each has been educated, but towards different ends.
Education can be formal, where we sit in classrooms and are instructed by people who are there to impart their knowledge yo us. It can also be learned by imitating others. Many animals learn this way. It’s also how most kids learn to smoke, spit and swear, right?
If you rely on people to figure things out on their own, some will get it fairly quickly, others only with time and difficulty. But what do you do with those who either can’t seem to get it, or don’t want to get it? That’s where a formal education system comes into play. We just have to be careful about what is being taught.
Where can I apply this in my life?
We can both teach and learn throughout our lives. So long as we are learning or imparting knowledge to others, we are helping to make the world more knowledgeable, and hopefully a little better. We just need to be careful what we teach, or what we learn.
If we can learn or teach a little compassion and a little tolerance, the we are doing a great deal for the future of the Human Race, right? That is, after all, what the quote is about. And the results will be far-reaching, as what we learn or teach becomes part of the culture.
Consider how science has built on itself over the centuries. When the Greeks were the primary power in the Mediterranean Sea, the seven simple machines were cutting edge technology. Today, it’s rare to see them even taught, they are simply assumed, and things made of dozens or even thousands are what we discuss. Consider your car or even a dishwasher.
Similarly, basic human values and rights are commonly discussed in classrooms across much of the world. Even just 100 years ago, the discussion was about the place of women in the world, and just fifty years before that, the USA was having a very un-civil discussion of the place of blacks in America.
As we build, as we teach, as we grow as societies, things which were once hotly debated become part of the culture. As we teach, and as we learn, we add to that culture. We can promote compassion and tolerance, or we can work towards other ends.
Both results come from education and from learning. However, the outcome is a bit different. We need to be careful when we select teachers, lest they fill our heads with things which oppose compassion and tolerance. That wouldn’t be good for you, or for society, would it?
What can you do to teach others of compassion and tolerance? How can you lead by example? To whom would you turn to find out more about compassion and tolerance? Where would you go, and about what would you want to find out more? When are you going to start? The world needs your help, will you answer the call?
Please note that being compassionate and tolerant does not require you to be a doormat or a punching bag. Just because you are compassionate and tolerant doesn’t mean you have to be a victim of every thief, mugger, or criminal on the planet. Violence against you isn’t proper, and it is my belief that you aren’t required to tolerate it.