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June 29, 2022

School, between art and doping

High school students and graduates, university students and graduates, professionals that have the most diverse specializations and skills, in other words many of the potential daily readers, are of the opinion that poetry is no longer popular today. It’s no longer enjoyed. Some even state, arrogantly, that poetry is dead. And not just the so-called post-modernist poetry that prefers delirium over confession, but also classical poetry. Not to mention folk poetry which is still alive today in Romania but which is mostly used during the holidays and then only under the mutilating “originality” of all kinds of occasional bards. Poetry’s lack of popularity today is also decried by literary critics and historians, which are justifiably outraged by the supremacy of information at the expense of teaching and educating, but also by the fact that today a poetry book’s number of printed copies stands at 500 at most.

Even more serious is the very fact that teachers too admit the decline in the students’ thirst for poetry. But, unfortunately, this admission does not go further than that in order to identify the causes of this regress and especially to outline, even in a self-criticizing manner, the means of elevating the youngsters through the reading of their favorite poetries. This contradiction is precisely the source of the current state of mind in our society, when generations of youngsters increasingly less capable to taste poetry take liberty for anarchy. And precisely in this manner they lose their native potential for sensitiveness, lose the sense of perspective, of beauty and of belief in good, falling to petty states of brutality. Without access to art in general and to poetry in particular, the young remain secluded in a degrading, disfiguring carpe diem. These secluded youngsters are precisely the ones resorting to the use of drugs, to the ambition of not respecting anything and, starting from this, to the most serious anti-social behaviour, including murder. From antiquity and until recently art in general and poetry in particular, in close connection with religious belief, were our first means of resistance against great injustices. This truth is at the origin of the fact that Romanians, who were brutally tested throughout history, own a remarkable artistic treasure in which poetry holds the central place. Poetry was and remains our visiting card in the face of eternity and if we are to fight – and we have to! – in order to defend our spirituality as a synthesis between Latinity and Orthodoxy, we will find our first and strongest support in poetry. Especially in lyrical poetry where the tension of synthesis leads to a sort of cosmic confession, ennobled particularly through the power of faith found in the dignified attitude in the face of suffering, of death. The nobility of the Romanians’ suffering, with their dignity trampled under the hooves of so many bloody and pillaging invasions, but also with that huge power of sacrifice as a bridge towards rebirth, is entirely found in our lyrical poetry, sometimes with an incomparable capacity of suggestion. It is precisely this originality which leads to a dialectic of existence in which the violent confrontation between life and death, good and evil, ideal and reality, clears up through completion, gains the state of grace after the sacrament. This is where the vitality of a culture is first measured. School and education have always represented the chief ideal of any Romanian and the bright image of the teacher was lifted to the level of the legendary Daniil Sihastru, on whose wisdom even our great voivode Stephan the Great (1457-1504) relied. Today however, in the climate of sterile imitations under which the Romanian society is struggling, even school has been transformed into its contrary: its defining binomial, as an essential factor of teaching and educating, is today replaced by doping. By an unnatural supremacy of information at the expense of fertile teacher-to-student dialogue. And because every evil attracts others of its kind, here is the downside of informational doping: even the last among the students is given the “right” to challenge his teacher in the name of the so-called freedom of opinion. It is precisely because of this, through the drastic fall in the teacher’s authority, that school is in a continuous decline and the ideal of education is increasingly making way for that of money won at any cost. First of all, today in school liberty is taken for anarchy. The proposal to reintroduce school uniforms, in order to hide current social discrepancies too, has stirred the opposition of several rich families that have the ambition to display their “wealth” as visibly as possible. But precisely this ambition has led to a hike in the school dropout rate among poor families. A school dropout rate that currently goes up to approximately 20 per cent and continues to grow. These economic-social contradictions are pushing violence within the school and in the school’s environs to atrocious levels. The fact that even the mentally ill are doing whatever they want in schools also stems from the current confusion between liberty and anarchy. And another problem stems from that too: drug dependency has risen threefold in the last years and drug use is seen among children below the age of 14.School has thus ended up being an easily accessible area for the most obscure and damaging interventions from outside. Interventions that are also taking place through contempt for official laws, laws that are correct and well-intended but that are not respected. “We have good laws that are not respected,” almost all of the more than 60 ministers and secretaries of state that were at the helm of the Education Ministry in the last 20 years state as an excuse, unconsciously accusing themselves. Ministers and secretaries of state who are not even conceiving of bearing in mind, with priority, the multilateral education of young generations, including by cultivating either their poetic, ethical, scientific sensibilities or a multi-disciplinary synthesis. Most of these irresponsible officials limit themselves to factually borrowing from foreign education systems, fragmenting to the verge of extinction the local homogenous structures, breaking the cycles of education, bringing in teachers for whom this line of work is no longer accompanied by the indispensable vocation. And this confusion between freedom and anarchy is taking place precisely in the current conditions in which freedom’s supreme reason of being, identified in creation, in producing material and spiritual values, is increasingly absent in our country. That is precisely the explanation for the fact that Romania, although having the agricultural potential to feed 80 million people today imports approximately 70 per cent of the food products it consumes. The Romanian industry was pushed into bankruptcy and the country has become once again “eminently agricultural” as it was in the 19th Century. Despite B.P. Hasdeu’s warning that “an eminently agricultural country is open to foreign invasion.” Scientific research, the first component of tomorrow’s society, is also “dying” in Romania. Precisely because the sense of outlook, of prediction, as well as the capacity for synthesis, for completion of efforts and for solidarity, as the first attributes of art in general and of poetry in particular, are experiencing a painful collapse among the ranks of young generations, under the pressure of the confusion between liberty and anarchy.

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