An Open Letter to You, Timeless

By Michelle Leo. Michelle is from Jakarta, Indonesia. Please read her entry and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Dear fellow educators of anywhere and anytime in the world,

“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” So Victor Hugo uttered. Unless, that is, if you are opening a door for the world’s next big bad wolves, or in this case, for the big bad monetary wolves. That, painfully, would have you open a cell to make room for these corruptors to pay for their big money crimes.

Prison is, simply put, where the baddies go. Or, it is where those whom were convicted of criminal acts end up going to. People end up in prison to be punished for their wrongs, with those wrongs being defined by the law in its practiced time and place. The law may, in one way or another, differ from a country to another, but nowhere in this whole universe is an act of stealing ever ruled righteous. Some are poorly educated offenders whom are jailed for having stolen goods from a neighbor, but another good portion are thieves of high positions and trust, caught for embezzlement and for its other variations of unlawful deeds of accumulating money that aren’t theirs to claim.

These white-collar criminals, should you know, deal a serious blow on their victims, and more often than not those being devastated are us, large numbers of individual, society, and ultimately, also the economy. To have ever experienced fraud, in fact, is likely to cause some significant difficulties that weren’t supposed to happen to us, even more so if it involves a large sum of money. Considerate financial loss has been found to be a clear and direct cause to many cases of depression and suicidei. In America, estimates of monetary loss due to white-collar and corporate crimes to employees and stockholders, which ultimately impacts the society as well as the company, have numbers reaching hundreds of billions of dollarsii. A 2015 investigation drew a line of between $300 and $600 billion of financial losses per year to be attributed to white-collar crimesiii.

These white-collar criminals, clearly, have resources in order to be where they were, abusing power to gratify their own unjust means. Power, and all its properties, that they got to learn about some time and somewhere in their lives. Before they were thieves of money belonging to another, they were students at school. Sometime within their lives, once, they were young learners who were eager to know and warmly excitable to grow. Those innocent young minds, now, are thieves, heartbreakingly. These white-collar criminals, you should know, are highly positioned people of trust and influence in our society whom owes their position of power to their adequate schooling and all kinds of privilege that make up to the fine tuning of their competence, so that it is possible and that it so clearly happens that these thieves are facilitated to, somewhere down the road, commit their big money crimes. Somewhere along the journey, something went wrong.

Get this: don’t antagonize our schools. Not one person can say how their schools could ever be responsible. That’s too much of a stretch. No matter the how(s) and what(s), is the blame not acceptably held accountable to its perpetrator? Do we not have to ultimately owe up to our mistakes, seeing how at the end of the day it is us who were the ones to have committed our wrongs?

School, for what it is worth for, is good. In fact, school is so good that college-educated Americans reportedly make more, experience lower rates and shorter durations of unemployment, commit fewer crimes, live longer and healthier lives, and are also occupants of leadership and wealth positions in many sectors of the economyiv. Read that last part one more time – it is exactly the point. Calavita, Pontell, and Tillman (1997) wrote that they found how savings and loan crisis that resulted in tremendous financial losses are certainly attributable to “non–middle-class offenders”, or as you better know it as, white-collar criminalsv.

It is plausible that these big bad monetary wolves were put on their feet and managed well, so well that they met the requirements to enjoy their position of power, all thanks to their learning and schooling, their degrees and qualifications. The door has been opened to them, and things got ugly, because now those once young healthy minds have become thieves, now thrown behind bars, now being punished for having wronged many other people. Honestly, we haven’t even begun imagining if there are students out there that were to be more likely to be enabled to carry out other kinds of unlawful acts, not just corruption, owing it to the skills they acquired from going to school. As one educator to another, I’m saying this to you, where corruption by white-collars plagues and devastates many, and probably lays dormant until probably not any longer now, what do we do?

Friends, not a moment to lose, we need to “close those prisons”. We can. Remember, criminals go to prison. Not good, honest workers of society.

Here’s a picture: a seasoned archer teaches how to aim and shoot, but not why to shoot. It doesn’t matter who you are, an elementary grade teacher, a college professor, or a skill set specialization tutor: there’s something to be said for each and every one of us. All of us are educators. As you hand out and cultivate your skills and lessons in your students, enclose a must read “why-to-shoot” manual, which is, for goodness.

There is a matter at hand, which is of the competence you mean to equip your cherished students with. From the bottom of my heart, I deeply wish to make good use of this opportunity to share with all you who proudly take up titles of educators and makers of the future. Take arm and teach your students the value of honest and good work, of virtuous character. We may all live in differing social-political situations or even economical welfare, but all we may agree that it is never right to steal. One day, if we ever see our children once of passion and pure curiosity of learning, which we spent our days and night nurturing, now replaced with an adult of white collar, after sacking the degree they had earned from you, is now a thief who stole money countless many others have worked for. We may not be able to know what to do with ourselves, really, if it ever came to that.

Let us, fellow educators from anywhere and anytime in this world, look after our students. Impart our students to love integrity and ease them through the door of skillful mastery of their talents, along with something just as important, which are values of truthfulness and a kind heart that cares for the better of their friends’, country’s, and world’s lives. This, one day, they will surely know, is more than what they will ever need to live their lives in happiness and goodness. Something that will stay with them forever, timeless, and something that will keep them safe and help them stand their ground through the harshest or even most painful times of life. Something no amount of money would ever be worth compromising for.

With all my heart, I believe this is how just any of us educators may be able to “open a school door” in order to “close a prison door”: to teach of virtuous character. This, as a whole, would be the true purpose of educationvi. May we educators live to one day see the fruits of our hard work shown in the good spirited, honest workers of the future, liberated from bars.

Good luck!


A fellow educator and a fellow resident of one of the more corrupt countries in the world.

  1. Saxby, P., & Anil, R. (2012). “Financial Loss and Suicide”. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, 19 (2), 74–76.
  2. Public Citizen. (2002). “Corporate fraud and abuse taxes” cost the public billions. Retrieved from
  3. Stewart, E.(2015). White collar crime costs between $300 and $600 billion a year. Retrieved from
  4. Harper, Shaun. (2017, July 13). How Higher Education Is Bad for America. Retrieved from
  5. Calavita, K., Pontell, H., & Tillman, R. (1997). Big money crime: Fraud and politics in the savings and loan crisis. Berkeley: University of California Press
  6. Luther King, Martin. (1974, February) “The Purpose of Education”. Morehouse College: The Maroon Tiger

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