Monday, March 30, 2009

What is the arsenal of liberty?

Quite simply, it is a citizenry that is informed and capable of critical thought. As a people we are by and large woefully ignorant. That isn’t to say we are without any knowledge. Lots of people can tell you about sports or who is on American Idol or all manner of information about topics banal and inane. But when it comes to matters of politics or economics, you get glassy stares because as a people we are not exposed to these issues or told that it is important. The two great pillars that preserve our system of government are found in the 1st and 2nd amendment. A populace that is informed and able to express themselves through the free exchange of ideas, coupled with a populace that is armed, places a vital check on the power of the government by those agreeing to be governed. We have dealt for decades with attacks on the 2nd Amendment but the greater threat today is on the 1st. Not because free speech is being restricted (yet). Rather it is because we have nothing to speak about. Let me clarify: we have lots of talk about but nothing of any substance.

There are two primary culprits for this state we are in: the education system and the current American family model.

Our public education system ceased being about education long before I got to school. Schools have become glorified day-care. The public education system resembles the Lord of the Flies with the kids running the establishment. Violent students are kept in the system because they have been diagnosed with some sort of malady or disability. “Gifted” students are plucked out of the system and given special opportunities. The average kid is left to slog through year after year of wasted time, indifferent instruction, rote memorization designed to produce a desired result on a standardized test. This is not the fault of the average teacher but instead is the result of a system that is not designed not for education but compliance. I am growing more convinced that the school system is designed to produce ignorant and indifferent worker drones, drones who will do what they are told and be pliable so long as they are kept entertained.

That includes our vaunted university system. Our universities are not about critical thought, exploring ideas, placing competing positions forward in the public square to be defended. They are about uniformity in ideology. That was true even a decade and a half ago when I was in college. The overwhelming majority of students just sat in their seats, took notes and parroted back what the prof wanted to hear. In the last half century, the university system has become a place where students are to be indoctrinated into a particular stream of politically correct though. Any whack-job leftist, no matter how discredited, can get a rousing ovation at a university. A conservative shows up and the open minded left protests their very presence on the holy ground of campus and often stages disruptive or outright violent protests. Little wonder that Johnny cannot read nor can he think even with a sheepskin in hand.

In the American family model of 2008, presuming we even have a mother and father in the home which is a big presumption, the standard model is that both parents work at least part-time outside of the home. Kids are shipped off to various institution and activities to keep them busy: day-care, schools, sports, groups. Children are kept absent or busy as much as possible. There is minimal family interaction by design. Kids are absent most of the day and when they are home they are either doing the hours of homework that should have been done during the day or they are sequestered in their rooms with a myriad of electronic media to entertain them. Parents have little impact on their worldview, which is precisely the way it is designed.

An ignorant and placated citizenry is a necessary ingredient of tyranny. On the flip side, a well-informed and attentive citizenry has been the bane of tyrants throughout history. We are devolving from a society that cherished liberty and extolled the virtues of achievement into a society of covetousness. We punish and vilify the achievers in our society and yet we wonder why our economy is in the tank, why investments are fleeing overseas where a worker in India will do the same work as a worker in Michigan because the Indian worker appreciates having a job without the accompanying sense of entitlement.

My goal is not to browbeat others with the force of my arguments. I am not even that interested in convincing people of the rightness of my arguments as much as I am in getting people to think. My hope is to present ideas, to challenge assumptions, to encourage people (especially me!) to think. Someone with the opposite political beliefs who has obviously taken the time to think through them is far less annoying to me than someone, conservative or liberal, who has never bothered to think through why they believe what they believe. So let us reason together.
Post a Comment