Free Minds, Free People was exciting because most of the conferences I go to are dominated by white people, mostly white men with gray hair. Far as I could tell, I was the only gray-haired white man at this conference. In fact, I was at least 10 years older than the next oldest person and 30 years older than most of the radical, free-thinking, education-minded educators in beautiful, cool-yet-warm attendance. Never have I seen a conference of 1200 people with more diversity of shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, and genders more united in philosophy and approach to life.
Talkin’ bout a revolution sounds like a whisper at most conferences. It was the out-front, make-some-noise keynote theme at this one, and this revolution is all about love and peace. It’s not about how to make more money or how to make life better for certain subgroups of superior persons. It’s about collaborating with everyone to make life better for everyone, including our plant and animal relatives, including the water, land, and air. It’s about how to shift the paradigm from selfish competition to universal wellbeing and collective survival. In other words, it’s about peace culture, though I never heard those two words put together.
Another exciting element was the sad reality that the vast majority of participants had no knowledge of, information about, or interest in nuclear weapons. They’re confronting more immediate crises like the school-prison nexus, mass incarceration, police brutality, racism, sexism, immigration, and other aspects of social and economic justice. And yet, when exposed to the spirit of Hiroshima, they got it. Immediately. They know a threat to Mother Earth when they see one. They know a threat to the human family when they see one. They know that when love is irrelevant and power is all that counts, they are dealing with radical evil. And radical evil must be resisted.
And because they got it so profoundly, my team bonded in an unusually deep way with brand new friends, friends who will help introduce the Hibakusha Rebellion into the fight for social and economic justice. I'm writing this mostly to thank Free Minds, Free People for accepting me, accepting Hiroshima, and showing me what the world could look like if it were run by progressive educators instead of hyper-competitive warriors.
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