Monday, December 17, 2012

Pedagogy of Indignation

Paulo Reglus Neves Freire

Paulo Freire (1921-1997) has given an important inspiration to many who have a critical perspective on society. He is a critic of depth and moral action which gives instructions on how to achieve a more human world, where justice and equality are our ethical guidelines. Freires last book Pedagogy of Indignation, was published in 2004, seven years after his death. The book is a collection of letters and other writings from Freire's life. 

After reading the book, I am left with some confusing feelings. Tired and with a hurt inside my breast, that is paired with doubt and sadness, -but also with an expectation of the possibilty of something new to come. Freire challenges us to imagine a world that is more human than many live in today. Such a task requires a confrontation with the forces in society that creates and sustains discrimination and other human disorders. 

He is very concerned with a struggle against authorities. In this struggle, he believes that it is legitimate to use anger in a constructive way. We are often afraid of anger and suppress it when we feel it, but when faced with people who have been violated, both personally and in relation to social rights, it is permitted to become angry. Anger is an understandable and natural feeling when we are subjected to injustice. Anger is a tool that will make it possible for all who long for social justice to regain dignity, despite the disappointments and evil doings that constantly press us down. It's not just we who observes violations that are allowed to be angry, but also those who are violated. The injured person has the right to express his/her anger, and use one's anger as a motivation for ones struggle for justice. While we all live as historical beings, we live also a life as a historical time, "in the moment", with opportunities for change. 

Anger that is used in the struggle against violations must be used together with hope. Anger is necessary, but not sufficient. Changing the world requires a dialectical dynamic between the abolition of an inhuman world full of injustice and our dreams. Hope is the dialectical matrix between anger, mortification and love. Freire stressed in his last book that love towards a more human world is the dream behind his lifelong political struggle against violations in the world.

Theory and practice are related according to Freire. He says that one cannot change the world without understanding the dialogue. He calls this for theoretical practice, and it is only possible when it maintains the dialectical movement between oneself and the practice carried out in a particular context. In other words, reflection is only possible when it sends us back to the particular situation where we can act in.

The last chapter in his last book is about the difficult theme of violence. Freire looks at violence not only as physical violence, but also as symbolic violence: violence as hunger; violence as economic interests and power; violence because of religion; violence in politics; violence and racism; violence and sexism; violence and social class. The struggle for peace in the world, must be understood as a struggle against violence which must be replaced with justice. He argues that people who steal from another person should be punished. Likewise, people who abuse or otherwise violate another human being. This must also apply, according to Freire, to violations commited by cultures and civilizations.

Our utopian reality is based on a belief that power rests on the ethical assumptions. Without ethics, the world would crumble away. In a world where power is based on ethics, political power is to guarantee freedom, rights, duties and justice. To dream of such a world is necessary, but not sufficient. Everyone must struggle to realize ones dream, -every single day. It would be unbearable and horrible if we were sensitive to pain, hunger, injustice, and threats, without having the opportunity to understand the reasons for this negativity. It would be cruel, Freire writes, if we could experience oppression without being able to imagine a different and better world, or dream of a project that is about the struggle for justice.

Freedom is not a gift given to us. Freedom is earned by individuals and communities through a constant struggle. Our freedom, argues Freire, is constantly under a threat from enemies and we must constantly fight to keep it as ours. It's about fighting against all forms of violence, whether it be violence against nature or our culture. It is a struggle against attitudes that encourage crime, abuse, lack of respect for the weak and all that is alive among us. Without this, life itself would no longer have any value, concludes ​​Freire. The dream of a better world requires that we struggle battles without losing hope. No matter which community we belong to, it is urgent, says Freie that we struggle with hope and without fear.

Literature: Freie, Paulo. 2004. Pedagogy of Indignation. London: Paradigm Books

Kaare T. Pettersen

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