Are you useful?

Ewan Mealyou continues the series Disocation of soul and modern life...

It should be the baldest truism to say that people are not merely units of resource on balance sheets, but alas that is exactly how they are being treated in the planning and financing of higher education in too many parts of the developed world.”

A.C. Grayling in

“Education (instead) has become an institution whose purpose in the modern world is not to make culture, not to serve the living cosmos, but to harness humankind to the dead forces of materialism.  Education as we know it, from preschool through graduate school, damages the soul.”

From “Facing the World with Soul” Robert Sardello

Education + Economics = Social Control?

We often hear it said that children and young people should grow up to be useful members of society. No one actually stops to define what ‘useful’ means in this context, but we know it’s something to do with being a net contributor to the economy, and not breaking the law. I have heard a teacher echo these sentiments recently, about helping ‘problem’ children in the secondary education system.

It’s part of the process whereby our society turns its citizens into units of economic production (workers) and economic consumption (consumers). These constraints are built into our lives almost from the beginning. We need to be useful and we need to spend. It’s death to the soul, but it’s how the system works. That’s why any politician, of almost any hue, is talking about economic growth. I find this profoundly depressing.

Does a person need to be useful?

Money is always found for science and engineering, new drugs to sell, new products to create and new bridges to keep the traffic moving. These are the engines of progress and clever people are needed to turn the levers. What about the arts, literature, philosophy, history, theology? Subjects that should allow space for consideration of the human condition and the soul. I think graduates from these disciplines find themselves serving the economy soon enough.

Progress is not wrong in itself. I confess myself in awe of steam engines and men walking on the moon. However, if the master progress serves is materialism, we are consumed from the day we are born. But what if progress served mans soul? Our lives would be different. I leave you to wonder how and why.

Does a person need to be useful? I don’t believe that. We need to ‘be’. Not at a superficial level. We need to ‘be’ at the level of our calling. I think people like that change everything around them for the better. Now that would be useful.