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My sister played with the niece of the principal of the public school I went to in Chipman, New Brunswick. For two years she had watched me leave home to go to school. Now she was thrilled to start that “great adventure” herself.

As we got near the school we saw the principal entering. Her name was Elizabeth Barrington. I told my sister to say hello to her.

At noon when we met to go home her face was red from her tears. I learned she had been given the strap for addressing the principal.

There is not much we can do at eight when we see our sister harmed. One thing we can do is to remember.

I have the memory of that moment sealed in my heart.

Egerton Ryerson had his statue overturned this week in Toronto. As it lay on the ground it was beheaded.

That’s fine. It was a dead thing.

The man the statue was put up to honour wreaked untold harm not only on the indigenous community but upon all the communities that passed through he system he built. Not the native children alone but all of us were to be assimilated into the society he wished to generate.

That society is one composed of soulless beings who can give a strap to a six year old child without feeling deep personal shame. It is a society of monsters. In the world of STAR TREK it is THE BORG. Its message is that resistance is futile.

It often seems that resistance is futile.

It isn’t.

Towards the end of his life my father said to me, “I have hated you from the moment you were born as in that instant I realized I had to die.” My dad was nineteen when I was born. He was around 72 when he died. On Saturday I turn 75.

I have outlived him.

We are called to love our mother and father. I do. It took a lot of doing but I do. The poet Byron said, “I love my mother. I don’t like her.” So much of our thinking as a society seems to stem from the platitudes I find on greeting cards. I loathe them. I always send blank cards. Better no message than the trite message they send.

“Someone ought to do it, but why should I? Someone ought to do it, so why not I? Between these two sentences lie whole centuries of moral evolution.”― Annie Besant.

We  find that idea first spoken in Jesus’ story of THE GOOD SAMARITAN.

Those called to help, the pharisee (priest, politician), the scribe (lawyer) seeing the bandit’s victim cross the road. They pass on by. The Samaritan, whom both view with complete contempt as unclean, stops and helps.

The murder this week of a Muslim family by a young man spoken of as one who is a Christian and has a great relationship with God is brother to the pharisee and the scribe. They thought themselves good men with a great relationship with God. Egerton Ryerson probably thought that.

I first became aware of a reality beyond that taught in my classrooms when animation artist and legend Tex Avery died. I tried to get one of his writers, Heck Allen, to come to Toronto for a tribute. Mr. Allen said, “Son, I don’t travel and I never liked the movies.” “What do you like?” I asked. “The native people. I write books about them,” he said. I said, “Send me one.”

He did. It was called THE BEAR PAW HORSES. In it I read how the bodies of the dead native children were stored piled up like wood during the winter until the ground thawed out enough to allow them to be buried. That was in 1980.

Brutality towards children has been a part of our education system from the start.

Albert Einstein stated, “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very great mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”

“You have the wrong attitude. If you leave this school today you will starve in two weeks,” said my high school principal in the winter of 1964 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Then he said, “Where are you going? I did not give you permission to leave.”

I replied, “To see if you are right.”

That was a long time ago. I turn 75 this Saturday.

For the last twenty of those 75 years I have been under a sustained personal attack designed to get me killed.

I know a thing or two about hate.

I also know a thing or two about the apathy and the indifference that allows hate to grow.

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.
Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse” from Collected Poems. Copyright © Estate of Philip Larkin.  Reprinted by permission of Faber and Faber, Ltd.
Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

In the end our parents will continue to send us to school. There many of the best and brightest will be wounded some unto death.


It’s cheaper than hiring a babysitter.

“I had wonderful teachers in the first and second grades who taught me everything I know. After that, I’m afraid, the teachers were nice, but they were dopes…I have a lack of ideology, and not because I have an animus against any particular ideology; it’s just that they don’t make sense to me…they get in the way of thinking. I don’t see what use they are…University and uniformity, as ideals, have subtly influenced how people thought about education, politics, economics, government, everything…We are misled by universities and other intellectual institutions to believe that there are separate fields of knowledge. But it’s clear there are no separate fields of knowledge. It is a seamless web.”-Jane Jacob.

“Invent nothing. Deny nothing. Stand up. Speak up. Stay out of school.”–David Mamet, TRUE AND FALSE.

Of course, most reading this won’t stay out of school.

That is not my affair.–Reg Hartt


Incompetent by time we are prepared:






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