Climate Change is Rendering Formal Education Meaningless

Issue 245

Reverend Billy Talen Apr 3, 2019

Dear Rev,

Every year I take my kid to the annual Earth Day celebration in Union Square. She loves it and I feel like it’s a great way to get them psyched about recycling and treating nature with respect. But there’s all these companies there giving away cheap shwag. Is there a way to get back to the original spirit of Earth Day?

Conflictedly yours,

Allison, Bushwick

Friends don’t bring friends to the corporate Earth Day at Union Square. A key early lesson for your child is identifying a co-opted green event. Starbucks is a big backer of Earth Day. Has anyone put more trash in the ocean than the mermaid-with-no-nipples?

The Earth’s crisis means we must break our relationship with corporations. They should be considered toxic until proven otherwise. All marketing departments dip their websites in green pixels and are on the lookout for Earth Day sponsorships. Don’t believe the hype.

Help your kid memorize the lyrics to “Fight the Power,” then call the Bronx River Alliance and make some parent-child bonding happen at that next riverbank cleanup!


Hi Billy,

Have you been following all this business surrounding the specialty schools here in NYC? I feel like they’re pitting parents against each other. Yellow, black, white and brown — all our kids deserve more resources and the best education possible. I’m a student of capitalism, artificial scarcity is part of the game. But I want my kid to have the best and I’m prepared to fight like hell for her to get it.

— Ali, South Bronx

How funny that everybody, even movie stars, seems to be scamming their way up the ladder. But how much sense does elitism make in 2019? We’ll have to use that ladder to get out of the flood and onto the roof.

It seems the shape of the class system has changed. The world is no longer a community with many roles. It’s more like, you live good or you die miserable. There are two classes now with a Trumpian wall in between. We desperately fear being on the wrong side of that wall. That’s why, Ali, formal education has never been more meaningless than it is now. 

Super-educated people are lost in a culture that is exploding. Let’s not be afraid of all that. We won’t be safe from the coming cataclysm because we went to Yale. A smart kid always has a degree in homeschooling. Regardless of the nonsense violence of the world, the child is safer who follows her passion and hones it until she is important to others. A survivor knows how to pull others up the ladder to safety.

— Reverend Billy

Reverend Billy is an activist and political shouter, a post-religious preacher of the streets and bank lobbies. Have a question for Reverend Billy? Just email and unburden your soul. He and the Stop Shopping Choir are performing their Extinction is Alive show at Starr Bar (214 Starr Street, Brooklyn) on Sunday, April 14 at 7:30 PM. Tickets are free.

Photo credit: Robb North.

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