Altar Of Scrutiny

“I’m worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel – let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they’re doing.
–Howard Zinn
I’m big on asking the question ‘why’. How we do things is efficient, but knowing ‘why’ we do things can really help a habit, method, or technique take root.
When I was a student, knowing the reason ‘why’ I did something helped me anchor my newly acquired knowledge. When I began teaching, I found that answering other people’s ‘why’ helped me to expand my knowledge even further.
My knowledge base is who I am and how I make my living. In order to keep myself sharp, I must lay my craft upon the altar of scrutiny or complacency will take over like rigor mortis.
Although I teach an art that is steeped in the tradition of control, discipline and respect, it would be irresponsible for me to use those three attributes as a way to control the conversation.
Every student has their own unique learning style and interests for studying the martial arts. As my students have often heard me say, “I teach you all the same way–differently.”
Besides, if no one challenges the system they are given, then the system fails in the same way the individual will fail–through stagnation and erosion of purpose.
Plus, what would happen if everyone just obeyed? At best I’d be using a quill and ink by candle light right now, the world would be flat and our country, as we know it, probably wouldn’t exist.
Not encouraging my students to question me can be dangerous. When someone presumes all authority figures should be trusted without checking in with their own logic and experience, then they become perfect automatons that are easily manipulated.
This is just what the usurper, con man or criminal wants–someone who goes with the flow when a ‘command’ voice is used. “Come with me and I won’t hurt you.” If someone trusts a stranger enough to follow them after they make that kind of threat, then I have an altar of scrutiny to sell them.

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