Working on the world begins with working on ourselves. How can we treat others—human and non-human—with respect if we don’t first treat ourselves with respect? The Art of Personal Responsibility is the wild and transformative art of remembering, over and over, with each mundane or tremendous moment, your significance.
Learning the Art of Personal Responsibility
By Sustaining That Which Sustains Us
Our lives are sustained by a deeply relational web: to our friends and families, to the laborers that build the things we use, to the land and waters from which our food grows. Stewardship is the primary way that we understand viscerally all that we are connected to. Through the work of our bodies and our hands, we can learn to see our selves as made up of the world—and in turn, see our role in making up the world.
By Delving into Our Wild Human Nature
We are responsible for the more-than-human world; we don’t own it, we owe it. In understanding our physical, functional relationship to the wild world—food, water, air, shelter— we also begin reckoning with our wholeness as human beings, and where our wholeness has been compromised. Our human nature is reflected in wild nature; it’s how we evolved, after all.
Authenticity is the ability to stand and deliver our true self as it is in this moment. To keep your word, to feel your feelings. Who are you in your true nature? You may not know yet, but an authentic search is just as good—if not better—than knowing.
Every good question starts with wondering, and real wonder should survive the answer. So much of what we do and how we are—exploring outer and inner landscapes, thinking creatively, enjoying our adventures, appreciating good food—starts with wonder. Don’t let Wikipedia kill yours!
The old meaning of “dignity” also means “privilege,” which indicates that, though our inherent worth need not be earned, it must be continuously cultivated—it is ours to forget. We work to see the dignity in our selves so that we can see and respect it in our friends, our community, and the dignity manifest in the wild world.
Acknowledging What We See
We recognize that we share a troubled world dominated by a narrative of interpenetrating historical systems and institutions that silence, oppress, and exploit myriad beings on this planet.
We acknowledge that we—as white, cis-gender, able-bodied individuals; and in particular as members of the industries of outdoor education, experiential education, and gap years—benefit disproportionately from these culturally-determined stories.
The more we learn about these stories, the more we find grief alongside our wonder. This grief, in many ways, is our starting point as educators. It fuels our personal and professional dedication to whole-person education, to becoming evolving agents of reconciliation and wholeness in this divided and suffering world.