October 12, 2006

The crisis of conscience... Academic Survival

"...In every profession, every professional with a conscience will be faced with at least one crisis. In a vocational profession like Academe, this is a shock for which the budding academic is completely unprepared. In fact, this is true of all conscientious people, whatever their profession. The fact of having to fight an issue of conscience is a crisis in itself.

Under the impact of this double shock: the crisis of conscience and the crisis of the crisis, people typically fall back on their earliest conditioning. That is, as in all the best childhood propaganda, they stand up for what they believe is right, proclaim their truth with clarity, and wait for the expected vindication and approval. To do less is a betrayal of their values, craven cowardice.

But it is quickly borne in upon the idealist that their profession will not tolerate these attitudes. Some people realise this before they make their first crusade, but all, at some stage, realise that their stark choice is to crusade and be ejected, head held high but professionally stigmatised (and do they have a family to support yet?), or to fold and become part of what they would rather stamp out.

Most, perforce, decide to fold. They may find ways of continuing the good fight in small areas, promising themselves that when they are secure in the system, when they have risen to a position of power, that they'll push for change and protect the vulnerable. Some do manage to achieve this. Many find out too late - if they are still capable of seeing the truth - that the system has instead poisoned them, and that by toeing the line, by standing by when injustices were perpetrated around them, by despising the naivety of the crusaders and believing that they brought their destruction upon themselves - by doing all this, they have become all this. And so it goes on for another generation...

From: http://www.ariadne.org/studio/michelli/acsurvival.html

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