Celebrating the teaching profession
After reading Martha Harris Myron’s column, “Celebrating the accounting profession”, I found myself wondering why an equivalent correspondence had not been penned by the Ministry of Education or one of the private schools celebrating the teaching profession. So, here is mine.
In A Philosophy of Boredom, Lars Svendsen describes how the Romantic does not recognise her own size, has to be bigger than everything else, and must defy boundaries to “devour the world” (142). But I would rather that than an endless line of servants to the capitalistic self-perpetuating monster described by Slavoj Zizek in Violence (10). But this, unfortunately, describes a great part of professional life in Bermuda.
The problem is not that there are accountants; rather, it is one of emphasis. There is no priority given to education; our scholastic efforts favour monetary single-mindedness over rational intensity; the present reforms to public education have gathered their weight from petty revenges—and misguided accounting, funnily enough — as opposed to forward-thinking policies and a non-racial commitment to not reinventing the wheel. But this emphasis we have on financial circulation does not — and cannot — stem from one opinion column displaying recruitment in robes of celebration.
The problem is that despite our seeing a lot of ecological decay in the form of littering and private docks, and human misery in the form of teachers in the public-education system being subjected to yet another needless existential reshuffle, we hold tight to the belief that reality does not matter, for “what matters is the situation of capital” (Zizek 11).
But there is a contradiction here. For, those who go into accounting—or other such jobs— have not a care in the world for the “father of accounting”, Luca Pacioli; nor do they recognise that they are attending to the expansion of universal capital. Rather, the mission is solitary, individual and selfish. These jobs, and the emphasis we put on them, represent an ostensibly “neutral matrix of social relations” in which bad taste, religion and race can be transcended (Zizek 132-133). But such a matrix cannot engender change because it is not concerned with habit, but with profit. Nor is it concerned with the institutional unconscious, the insincere politeness that can and will permeate every Bermudian institution (Zizek 143).
All we are doing by celebrating a vocation such as accounting on an island whose public education is in crisis is topping up the cultural powder keg. The transparency of our warped values and selfish endeavours that masquerade as acts of humility or politeness become “the medium of social violence” (Zizek 140).
That is not to say that there is neither kindness nor humility in Bermuda. That would be a dishonest position to take. In fact, the greatest sin is to actively deny the very possibility of kindness in such a place as Bermuda. In our garden of Eden, we would rather distort the serpent than slay it — for, many of us would like to be the serpent.
In sum, Lars Svendsen concludes that part of maturity is accepting that life at times is boring, but that this does not make life unlivable. Such an acceptance does not solve the problem, but it does change its nature (152). This, indeed, is what people in Bermuda must try to do: change the nature of the problem. To get the ball rolling, I would argue that the nature of the problem is not one of making money, but of being wise enough to understand that money solves only one problem: the problem of not having any money.
And, young people, remember, your local clergyman and your parents do not have the monopoly on wisdom. In many cases, they lack it.
• Walker Zupp, a St Georgian, studied English language and creative writing at Lancaster University, where he remained for the Creative Writing Independent Study MA. He is in the midst of his PhD in Creative Writing at Exeter University
Svendsen, Lars. A Philosophy of Boredom. Reaktion Books, 2004.
Zizek, Slavoj. Violence. Profile Books, 2008.
Myron, Martha Harris. “Celebrating the accounting profession.” The Royal Gazette, 13 March 2021, https://www.royalgazette.com/personal-finance/business/article/20210313/celebrating-the-accounting-profession/