Friday, November 27, 2009

"Anti-technology" is no longer okay with me

Sarah Dopp tweeted "Whomever is loud right now is probably loud because not too long ago, they felt silenced."

Which has this massive resonance to me. Really. It seems odd, but I have spent the last years feeling silenced. While the self-proclaimed grown-ups made the decisions I just tried my best to live with the sense of alienation and shame of being a technologist and technophile while being surrounded with the strange energy of West Sonoma County, and of a school community which is largely anti-technology.

How strange? How do you have an anti-technology school community in this third millennium?

When we joined the school I thought we were signing up for a loving school community (which we have had - that part is delightful) with loving supportive teachers (and we have been very fortunate there as well!) And I thought we were joining a community which thought that younger kids should limit their TV and movies intake.

And I even signed up for that one. I like 'Bob the Builder', but it was a good trade to get a loving community.

What I didn't realize was the deep current of fundamentally anti-technological people in the community.

About two years ago Sebastopol had a stupid-fest in which the city council voted against accepting free WiFi from local ISP because of alleged health effects.

This campaign included an email on the class email list (and yes, it does seem sort of absurd that our 'anti technology' school uses email.) :-/

I complained that I felt it was inappropriate for the class mailing list to be used to advocate for a specific political position. The teacher told me "what did you expect, sending your child to an
anti-technology school."

To be honest, that quote has haunted my thoughts and has colored my experiences of almost every interaction I have had at the school since then.

At the time I was battling deep depression, and to raise the issue at all had taken me a huge amount of emotional effort.

The response felt like a pretty clear statement of contempt for my deeply held values; my views
were marginalized, and it was an attack on my whole world view.

I am a technologist. And I am finally able to feel proud of that fact.

I believe that what I do makes the world better in deep and fundamental ways. I am working to create new ways of seeing the world, and new ways of understanding reality.

And I have worked hard to be tolerant of the views of others at the school even when they don't
mesh with my own. But now I have learned that apparently 75% of our kindergarten class has
vaccination waivers. The normal is about 2%

75%. I consider this to be fundamentally insane.

My girlfriend is immuno-suppressed. Her doctor has told her that it is not safe for her
to be around the school because of this public health disaster.

My aunt survived polio. My brother is deaf and has other health effects because my mother
had rubella during her pregnancy.

Should we go on?

A member of Spencer's class had _whooping cough_ for god's sake! His mother was
able, with a straight face, to report in the newspaper that their non-vaccination plan
was fine, and that the various diseases which they had all caught were fine.

Including whooping cough. In the 21st century someone can argue that a family
getting whooping cough is reasonable?

I am still trying to work this out. Tolerance of other views is a virtue. But the key here
is that this is 'tolerance.' Not acceptance, and not agreement.

I am also trying to work out this tension of community. I sat with this woman during a Waldorf equivalent of Shiva when a beloved teacher died. How do you hold those two truths together?

We can be in community with people with values with which we disagree, but we don't have
to (and we must not!) allow that 'tolerance' to be mistaken for agreement.

Sonoma County at center of anti-vaccine debate

To vaccinate or not?

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