Letting Our Hearts Break: On Facing the "Hidden Wound" of Human Supremacy

Rebecca A. Martusewicz


In this paper I argue that education must be defined by our willingness to experience compassion in the face of others’ suffering and thus by an ethical imperative, and seek to expose psycho-social processes of shame as dark matters that inferiorize and subjugate those expressing such compassion for the more-than-human world. Beginning with stories from my own life, I examine works of fiction including J. M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals (1999) and Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow (2000), as well as Berry’s reflection on his family’s legacy of racism in The Hidden Wound (2010), to explore the deep cultural wound caused by human supremacy. I further argue the need for claiming deep love and thus heartbreak in the face of suffering as the foundations for a pedagogy of responsibility.

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