An Enlightened Education

“It was my luck to have a few good teachers in my youth, men and women who came into my dark head and lit a match.”

Yann Martel, “Life of Pi”

Advertisements

… a challenging quote about God:

“If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? …If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? … If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? … and if he has spoken, why is the world not convinced?”

-Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


Name-Calling and Education

I am amused and somewhat confounded that when one contests a point-of-view and takes it to its end, the person who finds themselves cornered and apparently without the wherewithal to respond to questions and comments speaks out with a vengeance and declares the other person to lack civility and is a fool to boot. 

My opinion about such things is that our educational system has not fulfilled its rightful role. Those who would call out another in a not-too-subtle manner as a “fool” etc., in most cases, have not been given a stage to present their thoughts for peer review. It is as if you can believe what you want as long as you are passionate enough about it to remain convinced. I find that approach to education wrong headed. Everyone should be given the opportunity to defend their position before their peers while having a person of authority, an instructor, also chime in with their years of experience and maturity. Are we too weak to call out defective thinking because it might hurt the little ones in their social interactions? Well, welcome to the real world.

Higher education is a place for trying out new ideas and getting the kind of feedback that benefits the presenter, shapes the message, even gives reason to re-think one’s position. I find that most of those who do not allow themselves to be challenged in a place of advanced education are unable to handle the emotional baggage that comes with being “outed” for poor style, as in name-calling.


Black And White

For some time I have observed security to be described in terms of either black or white. Feeling safe is a right most contend they have been given while feeling unsafe is a threat few desire. What we think about is either safe or not safe. Sometimes it is in between. We gravitate toward those places and thoughts that make us feel safe and we do our best to avoid the discomfort of little or no security.

Many ideas have come to us from our parents and those we respect. These ideas become “grafted” into our unconscious. Assumptions about these truths are made and we live, for a time, without questioning them. The existence of Santa Claus and his reindeer are one of the first “facts” we are told. And, for most of us, that reality was as sure as anything else we were told. That is, until someone, perhaps an older sibling said there was no Santa Claus. That revealing statement became a troubling thought in our minds. At first, we denied it. Couldn’t be. No, Mom and Dad would not tell a lie. But then little things began to gnaw at our suspicions causing them to open like a festering wound that would not heal. The truth was unwelcome and inconvenient.

Truth works like that especially when a respected person, usually a parent, shares the “truth” with you. It becomes very difficult to give up the “truth” when it comes from such high authority as an all-knowing and invincible parent. Giving up Santa is like giving up a parent, a very difficult proposition.

Given the fact that other cultures have alternative Santa Claus figures that best fit their belief systems, one begins to wonder if a universal truth exists. There is no doubt that many believe a universal truth to be true but proof is very difficult to produce. There is no proof. One accepts Santa Claus stories on faith since the persons promoting the idea have a credible role as parent or adult.

If I were born in Utah chances are I would be a Mormon. If I was raised in Egypt I would be Islamic, and if I was born in Thailand I would probably be convinced that Buddhism was my religious identity. Much of our religious identity has to do with where we were born and to whom we were born.

So, when someone questions religious identities people begin to feel insecure. Their protection and security is threatened. People fear there might be a mistake and so to protect their beliefs they tend to lash out in defense. Some religions will even threaten anyone who believes differently. Some even threaten death. People are in danger of losing their reputation or life over a belief that they might be considered an atheist or unbeliever. Many pin their hopes on religion to assist them through some of the darkest things people experience. It doesn’t matter where their hope comes from it just matters that they are given something to believe. If you don’t believe as others do some begin to crush those ideas and exclude them from being part of the group. One can feel secure while observing most everyone else believing as they do while those who believe otherwise are made to feel outside the group. It is as if the person who does not believe as others do is made to pay for their independent thinking. Serious questions are raised that cause others to feel insecure. Better to shut down those who question the “truth” than to find cogent arguments to preserve a way of living no matter how little proof exists. As a result, one feels secure because the person who has legitimate questions is thought to have been vanquished. No proof, only a need to find security. Don’t prove me wrong, don’t even question. After all, if you have faith you have all you need. Or, do you?


Hoax, Hurt and Heart

Having seen the face of threat, certifying and hiring boards grinding out devastation, a person listens with an ear for gossip knowing my work was tested and my place questioned. Who are you that lives with you? Is it really you or could it be a phantom soul skidding notoriously into my view with clandestine motives. It matters little as the damage is nearly complete to reputation and character. The hoax is real, the play is the thing.


Paranoid Thinking and Politics

Many believe those who espouse an opposing view are attacking them. This fear, called “reality” by the “attacked”, is a disorder that disables levelheaded communication while granting the anxiety prone person a substantive argument to continue their paranoid thinking. It is a circuitous syndrome playing on its own fears. Anxiety, as viewed by the psychological practitioner, is the core of mental health or ill health. How one deals, or doesn’t deal, with doom-laden fears and apprehensions will manifest itself in delusional thinking and continued anxiety then take root in paranoid extremism. Though one can relieve one’s self of mild anxiety, if not addressed, it can lead to repetitive circles of anxious fears feeding on themselves. Anxiety can grow and often does as it mixes with delusional and paranoid thinking.

The political scene amply illustrates the various states of paranoia. Neither side is immune to the insidious nature of the disorder. And, because the person is paranoid, it is always someone or something else that is the cause of their frustrations and outbursts, not themselves. There are fewer disorders more difficult to understand than this one. It is the source of much frustration between people, especially when discussing delicate but important distinctions in politics and religion.

There are no simple cures for this disorder. Understanding or avoiding “hot” topics that bring the disorder to the fore are about all the average person can do. The unfortunate result of this approach leaves the person with little of importance to discuss while adding to their perception that they are alone in their reality.


Accused of Resorting to Non-Novel Ideas (A Personal Response)

There are “novel” ideas to consider when seeking answers. I would not call them novel nor refer to them as “by no stretch of the imagination novel,” but so be it. I get your point. And, I take courage that my co-thinkers are Jewish, left-wing or Democrat. My primary reason for identifying myself as a Liberal has to do with my investment in people. Anything that enhances the life of the general population is my interest. It matters little if it is government funded or not as the government is us. Balancing the equation between the “have’s” and “have-not’s” is my desire. That takes government intervention because we cannot and will not do it on our own. (Wall St. being the ultimate example of capitalism gone mad.) There are always going to be those who work the system be they Democrat or Republican. I know that. But the free enterprise model has created money monsters who take but do not give. The last ten years have to be an embarrassment to the crowd that calls themselves Capitalists. I could go on. (Is Blood in/on the streets the only answer?)