Is Free Education the Ticket to Happiness?

When you were a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? I sure didn’t. I was trying to be the best right then and there: the best student, the best class president, the best safety patrol. I was happy chasing rainbows and there were certainly lots to chase. This was the late 60’s in northern California. I had lots of choices and I explored a lot. I did have a tendency to look to art and medicine but I was involved with school politics, sports, and of course, the three R’s. I signed myself up for summer school and loved to choose English, Math, P.E. and Arts for my summer companions. Learning was fun and I enjoyed it.

My parents never boxed me into anything. I could have been whatever I wanted to be and it was up to me.

What if everyone had that opportunity? What if everyone could get a free education in what area called to them?

I started working early to have some spending money. It was good experience. I did sales and office work. I tried babysitting but that was not my cup of tea. I worked my way through school, then got a super job and dropped school but later went back with lots of experience under my belt. I was fortunate that school was affordable. I continue to accrue experience through work and continue to educate myself. Now I also get to give back to share, mentor, and teach.

If everyone had a free education at every point in their life, I think that we would see more happy people from primary to advanced level education. We would experience the joy of learning. I think that if I wanted to be a carpenter, I could go to trade school and become the best carpenter I could be because the school would allow me to apprentice with the best tradesmen who were waiting to pass on their hard and long-earned skills to someone who loved the craft not just someone who couldn’t get any other type of job.

I think that if later in my life I wanted to become an engineer or an industrial designer, a writer, or an inventor, I should be able to go and pursue that education and become the best in the field that I could be.

Dawn by the pond

Lilibeth André, Dawn by the Pond, oil, 16×20. Sold.

What if I was suddenly retired after building widgets all my life? I think I may want to explore photography and be the best or perhaps I may want to be a lab tech or a chef. I should be able to go to school and become the best I could be. Even if I just wanted to be a fisherman out on the lake. I would be a happy fisherman.

What if I was gifted and talented in science or technology? I should be able to get the best guidance counseling and optimize my learning to the best of my abilities throughout my lifetime so that I would be able to contribute to science and advance research and progress.

What ever I chose to do, I should be able to go back to school and hone my skills or acquire new ones through continuing education, if that is what I wanted to do.

Why? Because it would make me happy to pursue my calling, to gain the skills that would allow me to maximize my career when I wanted to do so. And in this pleasure for learning I would gladly give back through mentoring, teaching, or in practicing my skills and knowledge for the betterment of my community.

Free education would let me explore learning for fun and pleasure. It would open the door to giving back, self-fulfillment, and happiness.

Also read: the Future of Work-An Artist’s Perspective. Why we shouldn’t worry about robots and automation.

The Future of Work – An Artist’s Perspective

The future of work is a concern for many. As we advance technology with artificial intelligence, with drones, with massive analytical capabilities we ask, will machines replace humans? Will there be any jobs left? What will we humans do?

In 2014, I was invited to present my Vision for Houston in 2040. This vision focused on our living environment, the combination of urbanism and nature. Since then, I’ve realized we also need to change how we live at the social level.

Currently we each carry a dollar sign on our chest. It is our value. It is what categorizes us and makes some targets to pursue and others untouchables. It gives us license to adore some and the ability to turn others invisible in their very presence. We relate to each other according to this value but aren’t we more than that?

If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we can find a guide for developing our social make-up.

Maslow's pyramid of needs. Found on Wikipedia.

Maslow’s pyramid of needs. Found on Wikipedia.

Each person is unique. We each come to this life with certain gifts. I propose that we allow each person to pursue the development of those gifts, that we allow them to be their passion. With free education to pursue the development of those skills and knowledge people will become richer in areas that make them happy.

By providing a universal basic income thanks to the automation of much of the work we will enable everyone to meet their physiological needs along with their needs for safety and security. Everyone would have food and shelter where they decide to live.  This would be a standard.

We would then be free to pursue love and belonging, esteem, and self actualization. We would become givers instead of takers. Creators instead of consumers. We would all be free to become philanthropists of the gifts we have to give and these gifts would be developed to the level we desire. Some people would pursue technical paths, some would pursue social or natural areas. We would be able to match those who are young and curious with incessant questions with those who are senior and experienced looking to share their accrued knowledge and wisdom.

Everyone could become a master or an expert, or obtain enough experience to suffice for the needs of sharing in their community. The choice would be theirs. Those who want to pursue more could do so. Those who have had a life of making widget number 5 all their life would be invited to learn that which always called to them. This would not stop them from pursuing the great fish that got away but would give meaning to their retirement by giving them the opportunity to kick around that which they always wanted to pursue or practice, even if it was what they always did and loved. They would share of themselves with those looking for just that ability. Each person would be honored at all points of their life.

By finding the space to pursue love and belonging they would become esteemed members of their community. By finding and developing their true calling people would identify their place in the community. For the love of it, they would be scientists, engineers, technology experts, analysts enhancing the the advancements that make life hum. There would be those who engage in the social make-up of the community filling the creative, spiritual, and human need. And there would be those who become explorers, philosophers, and those who contemplate the essence of life. There would be those who become specialists and those who become generalists testing life in various areas at different times in their life. Everyone would be a teacher and a giver at one time or another, some more than others.

By enabling everyone to create a specific space for themselves in the community and valuing them for who they are, we can change the way we see “work” and live. We will recognize that each individual is important for who they are and what they contribute to the rest of us or the world in thought, product or presence. Not to pursue consumption but quality of life and enjoyment. We would pursue the purpose of being human.

 

Have You Checked Your Flight Plan?

As I travel further on my untraveled road, I have given myself the luxury of looking back. Sometimes with a laugh, sometimes longingly but mostly thankful for the experiences and the gifts that have brought me to where I am today, rich in experience that, as I was taught during difficult times, I will always take with me in my heart. And now I realize that what is in my heart I will take with me beyond this lifetime, nothing more.

There are many things that we encounter in our life, places and people as well. Some of these things we relish, some we use, and some we want to attach ourselves to for the various purposes we give them. More importantly, in the big picture scheme, I begin to question purpose.

Purpose is what gives meaning to all questions and although some answers are revealed, some remain a mystery. In boiling down those that have been revealed I can only try to comprehend their meaning and find reason to my own existence. What is my purpose? Why am I here? and, How will I get there?

It would all be very clear if the flight plan would be revealed but the next best thing is what I believe to be a very basic part of it and to me basic allows for simplicity, and simplicity is something I can understand.

This is how I see this simple flight plan:

I believe we come to forgive and be forgiven, to love and be loved, and to appreciate what is and what isn’t. Forgiveness absolves all debt. Love accepts all beings, and appreciation allows us the freedom to find joy and learning in all things that are revealed along our path. These are the accomplishments we are able to take with us. Everything else is icing on the cake of life.

 

A Poem – Love and Peace

Earlier last year I was fortunate to have one of my poems broadcast. It was for Valentines Day actually. I wrote it in Spanish. I want to share with you the translation I recently completed.

Translating my own work allows me to focus beyond the literal translation. Being bilingual, I can bring the emotional meaning into the language although I usually prefer the poem in it’s original form.

I liked the broadcast recording of the poem because I believe it reflects the bubbly excitement the poem brings to me. I hope you enjoy the poem.

Love and Peace
by Lilibeth Andre (translation of the original Amor y Paz)

This year I have known love.

I felt how the heat tingled in my body,

Entering through my hands,

Growing in my belly.

This year I have known love.

It filled my body with heart, beating in acceleration,

Pumping power,

Beating rhythm.

This year I have known love.

It’s heat ignited me from the depth of my center,

It’s fire spreading through my veins.

I felt it skin deep,

Running from my breast,

Flowing from my face.

Filling my soul with hope once again.

This year I have known peace.

I felt how calm began to invade my body,

Covering me like a blanket,

Opening my eyes,

From the soul.

This year I have known peace.

It enveloped me in divine love filling me with calm.

Blooming of fragrances,

Sprouting beautiful colors.

This year I have known peace.

It’s unconditional love filled me completely.

Total acceptance flowed within me.

Happines emerged.

Laughter flowed.

It gave me back the confidence of knowing me master and possessed.

—— THE END ——-

And The Pursuit of Happiness…Are We There Yet?

We declare our independence to be free to pursue happiness and we ask ourselves, are we there yet? Can you respond to this question instantly? Do you ponder and assess? Would you know what it looks like?

In asking myself those very questions I realized that I did not know the answer and I began an unacknowledged journey in the pursuit of happiness.

I certainly wanted to be there but I wasn’t quite sure of the extent of it or what it would be like.

I thought that if I had certain things which I didn’t have, that would make me happy but those things were not always there for me to have. This caused tremendous turmoil, rebelliousness, and unhappiness. There were two options, I could force them or I could not.

Not being one to give up I became so focuses on chasing those things that I forgot to paint, sing, and dance.

A dear friend lent me his hand and said, “Look at all the things you have.” He pointed to the sun, the breeze, the leaves and the loving people at my side but I was not quite ready to be satisfied.

Right around the moment of the most extreme angst I finally listened to a colleague and joined a breathe-focused meditation workshop. Through this experience I was able to see what really mattered to me. I didn’t stop wanting but I could see what mattered most to me.

The first thing was to know there was total love and acceptance where it mattered, at the beginning, at the top! This gave me the freedom to give that to everyone else.

The journey began to matter more. I was less distracted. I could begin to see that certain things called to me. I was unadulteratedly free to explore them. They had significance and I felt the freedom to relish the learning without judgement. In doing so, I was learning to know myself more than before.

As I continue to enjoy my personal journey through life and realize that each one of us chooses our own response and disposition to the path before us, I can be free to be myself and allow others to make their own choices. Have I reached the level of perfection? Far from it but at least now I know where I need to focus: I am the work in progress.

What have I gained? This process has taught me that the destination is myself. Knowing who I am. The result is what I give back in the form of what I receive and the light I choose to shine is that of peace and love, not only as words but as a true understanding, as an authentic experience.

So today, I believe I am truly on the right path. I have been on it all along but today I am more ready to enjoy it as myself.

What Came First, People or Business?

Each element of our society has essential value and deserves the respect of being sustainable. In this manner, each individual will contribute positively knowing they are a valued element of the whole. They will be more susceptible and able to contribute to the overall outcome, and their own perveyance.

People are the most valuable asset. Without people we have no need for products or services.

In a recent Forbes article by Laura Shin, “Why McDonald’s Employee Budget Has Everyone Up In Arms”, Shin points out that the budgeting tool became a detonator to the open acknowledgement that minimum wage does not support a person. It was right there on the internet!

Lilibeth Andre, Denzel, 10x8, watercolor

Lilibeth Andre, Denzel, 10×8, watercolor

This inability to make ends meet has been a long-known fact to anyone living on minimum wage or even without it. For example, one who has been in a position to know what it’s like to pay the bills with less money than is required can easily spot the fallacy of an attempt to support ones standard needs. In fact, the budgeting tool is clear to demonstrate that minimum wage doesn’t even support basic needs. And that is the whole point.

When we remove the ability people have to support themselves we take on a tremendous responsibility we are not well prepared to support. And when we bring someone on board requiring full-time (or more) attention from their life, we need to be able to give them what it takes to provide high quality attention.

What does high quality attention from an employee look like?

If I want to capture my employee’s high quality full attention, as a society, I want to be able to give him what he needs to be able to deliver that. Starting with the ability to have the peace of mind to be able to focus and providing the skills, knowledge and training that will allow him to maintain that optimum performance.

Lilibeth Andre, Drew, 11x8.5, watercolor

Lilibeth Andre, Drew, 11×8.5, watercolor

What provides peace of mind? Not having to worry about borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. This compromise is never more prevalent than for a working parent. In order to work, one must allow for care of the kids. Minimum wage does not provide the means to afford care for our children that merits their value as the investment in our future–yours and mine–because we don’t know what that child will be able to achieve and we want him to be the most balanced and prepared he can be. Does that include allowing the parent(s) to be more involved in their life? Does that mean providing the time they will need to do that? Does it mean that their work and school schedules will mirror each other? Does it mean valuing parenting years to raise the pay of one working parent?

The high quality comes in the education and training. An education system that provides ongoing knowledge and training to meet the needs of the workers and the employers. The guarantee that it will be affordable because we recognize the value of an education and its relationship to the quality of life of all of us. If we don’t invest in providing top education and training to our children, what will our future look like if those who become our leaders and service providers are less prepared that we were when we started? Will we be providing the enrichment that the arts offers to expand creativity and innovation as well as our appreciation for our own culture and that of others?

This minimum wage awareness focuses on those who work for others but what about those who work for themselves? Are we providing the liberties and environment that fosters sustainability by someone who sets out to support themselves or provide a product or service to others? We must not clip the wings of people or take away their independence. We must honor people’s essential value and deserved respect to be sustainable.

Sustainability vs. Sustainable Development

Not that these terms are adversarial but I do see them as a bit different from each other. So what are the differences that I see and what does each one mean to me?

I see sustainability as the things that we do to keep us viable on a ‘personal’ level. These may be the processes we follow to produce what we create or the service we provide or how we live. Do we use the most efficient method? Do we avoid creating or discarding waste? Do we use materials that promote the sustainable performance of our vendors? Does our product or service help others be more sustainable? And in carrying out this work, do we do it by creating the least impact? Do we create the smallest carbon footprint we can?

So I see sustainability as the work we do at the ‘individual’ level as a person, company or organization, to help maximize the work of others and expand on the work we do ourselves.

Sustainable Development on the other hand, I see is the collective effort. It is the work we can do together to create an environment that provides for a good quality of life for more people by looking at the future through many and multiple points of view. The future is what we build today but if we are not good stewards, there can be little future. Our task then is to find better and more effective and efficient ways to develop sustainably, and satisfy more people now and tomorrow. An exciting challenge.

How can we develop more sustainably? We have to work together. We have to look to the future and see what we would like that future to look like. It will not be a complete picture but it will help spark our collective innovation and creativity. Perhaps not just on an individual basis but more on a group basis. In other words, my ideas may help you improve yours, and his may help me improve mine, and hers may help improve theirs, all in a more open and contributing effort so that we can learn and improve exponentially, as time is of the essence.

When we look at things through the lense of sustainable development it is to our best interest to pool our human capital and financial resources together to improve our outcome. No one has the total resources to make a single decision to create total change. However, if we use our desired outcome to light the path we want to follow, more people, groups and communities will be able to align in the same direction and we will be able to reach the ‘destination’ more rapidly and with greater economies.

There will be change. There will be casualties from the current point of view. As we advance, we will begin to align in our objectives so that we can measure our decisions with the least detrimental outcomes and most rapid and precise movement for greater collective results.

How will we measure these results? Perhaps we can look at happiness and well-being.

Will that destination be our ultimate goal? I hope not. I hope it is only the marker to our next stop, the next turn of our ongoing cycle of evolution. I hope that as we continue to grow toward meeting that new stop, we are already creatively innovating ways in which we will reach the following destination along the way.

 

 

 

  • May 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Mar    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Lilibeth André

  • Receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,186 other followers

  • The Top Five

  • Copyright Notice

    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email info@lilibethandre.com. Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.