in human relations
for living has immeasurable potential for transforming the
world. But education has not been adequately engaged to impact
on the diverse range of situations encountered in everyday
life. Many matters crucially important to personal and social
life are nowhere included on structured educations agenda
and are deprived of educations profound enlightenment.
Our best efforts have been directed at preparation for earning
a living, which is, undoubtedly, an extremely important function
of education. But as we well know, there is much more to living
than earning a living. True, many other conventional facets
of education have experienced impressive progress, even creative
revolutions, over the years.
But, tragically, some very important responsibilities of education
are not even recognised as the business of education, far
less given deserved attention in any organised way. Any attention
received has been incidental via ad hoc, informal sources.
It is instructive to consider some life situations that are
generally excluded from the influence of education, but which
positively belong to educations unconventional
curriculum, intended for delivery in the laboratory
of life by way of lessons best described as educated
approaches to everyday things.
And, make no mistake, there are educated ways
of relating to people, driving cars, washing dishes, practising
family life, participating in sports, handling tragedies,
etc. This article deals with one important item of that neglected
agenda: the role of education in human relations.
Even in our materialistic times, it is appreciated that personal
and social well being depends significantly on the quality
of human relations among members of families, residents of
neighbourhoods, co-workers, fellow students, business associates,
Much personal hurt, family distress and social disharmony
result from conflict and unresolved relationship issues. Many
psychological and physical ailments, including a range of
lifestyle illnesses, are caused or exacerbated by hurt, anger,
tension, conflict and the resultant hatred and bitterness.
Yet, whether it is a vehicular accident, domestic dispute,
disagreement between neighbours or co-workers, the popular
solution tends towards either brazen aggression
or calculated coldness.
Aggression includes loud, abrasive tantrums, full-scale cuss-out
or physical combat.
Coldness involves abrupt cessation of communication (not
talking) with each side enlisting its own circle of
sympathisers. Then pride takes over. Each side avows its contempt
for the other and its resolve not to bow first,
in a shameful display of standard one pettiness.
Both approaches are counterproductive exhibitions of weakness,
cowardice and evasion. What is the alternative?
If our liberal endowment with the capacity for reasoning and
communication distinguishes us from the lower
animals, should we not readily use these strengths in our
In a world frighteningly scarce on goodwill, every effort
should be made to build, preserve and restore friendships
by pursuing the truly courageous course of dealing with human
affairs on high moral ground, employing the powerful instruments
of sober reason and constructive communication.
The motive must always be genuine interest in human welfare
and co-operation, never ulterior; the modus operandi: perseverance
and resilience tempered by sensitivity, discretion and measured
Contrary to conventional wisdom, genuine initiatives to advance
or salvage relationships demonstrate maturity and charity,
not humiliation or grovelling. Forgiveness and reconciliation
constitute not just sound social policy, but powerful personal
therapy as well.
What does all of this have to do with education? Well, with
human relations ruptures so commonplace and the resultant
tension and social disharmony so distressing, evidently these
experiences do exact a high social price, no doubt setting
up some of the violence and supposed crimes of passion
So managing or mediating relationship issues is a dire social
need. And what better instrument than education for counteracting
the whole slew of mistaken ideas, inverted thinking, prejudices,
malice, etc which underlie conflict, and for fostering the
Education is the human enterprise best suited for unveiling
the uncommon sense required for navigating lifes
Education must be engaged for:
Disseminating important lessons about self-control, prudent
judgment, brotherly love, co-operation, courtesy.
Deploring aggression, coldness and fighting the
world on its own terms.
Demonstrating the triumphant power or humility, tolerance
and conciliatory approaches.
Extolling the moral courage and magnanimous spirit of the
Denouncing pride, stubbornness and conceit which mistake humility
for humiliation and meekness for weakness.
It is revealing to contrast the tremendous progress made in
utilitarian matters (building computers, flying planes, cooking
meals, etc) against our abject stagnation in the area of interpersonal
relations. Fifty years and several impressive professional
and other achievements later, many adults remain stuck in
standard one behaviour, being no less disposed
to childish squabbles but now further afflicted by adult intransigence.
It is widely acknowledged today that our thinking (thought
life) is a major determinant of our spiritual, emotional and
physical well being, and is therefore a significant factor
in the quality of our relationships: As a man thinks,
so is he.
Thus, the renewal of the mind, from the unhealthy
mindset of conventional wisdom to the ideals of true wisdom,
must be the ultimate therapy. Renewal is accomplished through
moral and spiritual education based on the word of Godno
deference here to secularism; the truth must be told.
Transformational education must discredit and debunk many
myths of western culture while promoting the universal and
timeless absolutes based on the truth, as distinct from any
rendering of mere facts. Such gems of wisdom as loving ones
enemies, forgiving over and over, walking the
extra mile are the stuff through which metamorphoses are accomplished.
While education thrives within the corridors of the conventional
and the intra-mural, everyday life spins out of control for
lack of educations intervention.
The world can be a much better place if human issues benefit
from our distinctive human strengths and the formidable human
enterprise of education. We may even succeed in justifying
our claim to being the most intelligent of creatures for reasons
(as was famously said) other than the fact that no other creature
has yet contested the claim.