December 11, 2007
What is it about idiots that we find so attractive? Why do we find stories of utter stupidity so enthralling? Why do find morons so tempting a target?
There are many answers of course. Idiots are entertaining, stupidity is always a source of humor and of course, self serving morons are more obsessed than sexual masochists (sexual masochists usually have to disrobe. Morons are satisfied with the beatings they invite, fully clothed, anytime, any where).
Mamacita has it right, of course. In a previous post , she mentions the direction we are headed in. Is she a prophetess? Hardly. The misuse of Title IX regulations were the harbinger of things to come. Political correctness- usually dispensed by people who opine on matters they know nothing about (despite watching TV, reading a Barnes and Noble suggested title or reading a particular website)- and in all probability, will never be informed. Why should they be bothered to be informed? They feel they have what to contribute. The good news is that they are entertaining.
Mamacita’s remarks are found in the post below this one. If you haven’t yet read them, do so now. If you have, reread them. MaxedOutMama contributed an interesting comment:
I thought you were commenting on Palm Beach County’s decision to eliminate letter grades and substitute a 1,2,3 system.
Clearly they are trying to do something similar to what you described…From Palm Beach, Fl: Elementary principals voted for the change this year, saying the letter grade system can be an obsession with students and parents and doesn’t reflect how a student is really learning. The school board will not vote on the change.
Under the formula, a 1 means the student is working a year or more below grade level, a 2 indicates the student is working less than a year below grade level, and a 3 means they are working at or above grade level.
See? You just can’t make this stuff up. The only thing a parent can tell is whether their kid is below grade level. I would hate that – I want more precise feedback
Well, MOM, what you want is irrelevant. What Mamacita wants, is irrelevant. What we are going to get is something that offends as few people as possible and makes a lot of people feel good.
There is an old saying, “The truth is often spoken in jest.” With that in mind, The Barking Dingo left an interesting comment:
“I was in high school at the very beginning of the whole ‘self esteem’ movement. I was the student representative to the school board (yes, I know, I’m a geek). Anyway, we had the typical honors classes (math, physics, English, chemistry, etc). A group of parents came in and petitioned the school board to set up an ‘Honors class B’ for all of their kids that were not good enough to get into the regular honors classes. It was voted down unanimously by the board, but that was an eye opener for me.
Since, I am not a parent, I can safely take no blame for this movement. I will instead place the blame squarely on all of you.
He may be on to something. The fact of the matter is that we need to treat the ideas and notions of those people who know nothing and yet feel as their voice is of equal merit, because they feel it should be.
Here’s the deal- we can’t all ‘just get along.’ We’ve tried. Smarter people than you have tried and will continue to try. The reality is that we have deal with reality. The reality is that being inclusive simple because you feel it’s a good thing to do, only exacerbates real problems for everyone.
Not happy your kid didn’t get the marks to get into a good school? Too bad. Maybe he or she is not meant to go to a good school. That Harvard ‘dumbed down’ for a decade and gave out A’s like candy doesn’t mean your kid is as smart as the kid who really learned his or her stuff. All it means is that the kid who really did worked his ass off (that means, not your limp brained kid) will have had his work demeaned and diminished because of your meat-loaf brained kid of yours. In the end, you can’t fool mother nature. That idiot kid of your neighbor’s that graduated Harvard will be regarded as an idiot- because he or she is an idiot. You won’t be able to hide the reality that behind the backs of many parents, voices will be heard saying, ‘THAT idiot went to Harvard?’
Want your kid to do well? Have them earn it. Your genetic material didn’t pass on the ability to test well? Learn how to test well. Yes, that may mean that little precious Einstein of yours may have to give up Theater Class. Yup, your kid may have learn to be the best he or she can be, for themselves and by themselves- and not be a parrot. Simply repeating Shakespeare’s or Williams words does not mean that idiot kid of yours actually understands Shakespeare or Williams. Nor is Theater Class a substitute for real learning.
Portions of this post have been previously published.
December 11, 2007
In the secular account, “You are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm washed up on an empty beach 3 1/2 billion years ago. You are a mere grab bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an empty corner of a meaningless universe. You came from nothing and are going nowhere.”
In the Christian view, by contrast, “You are the special creation of a good and all-powerful God. You are the climax of His creation. Not only is your kind unique, but you are unique among your kind. Your Creator loves you so much and so intensely desires your companionship and affection that He gave the life of His only son that you might spend eternity with him.”
Now imagine two groups of people — let’s call them the Secular Tribe and the Religious Tribe — who subscribe to one of these two views. Which of the two is more likely to survive, prosper and multiply? The religious tribe is made up of people who have an animating sense of purpose. The secular tribe is made up of people who are not sure why they exist at all. The religious tribe is composed of individuals who view their every thought and action as consequential. The secular tribe is made up of matter that cannot explain why it is able to think at all.
We have come to understand our own place in the Cosmos largely by way of how we have come to define ourselves. The philosophies of the temples of science revolve around the notion that each of us are really no more than a brick on the evolutionary path with no real point to our existence. There is only the here and now and that is all that matters. What is good and bad are determined by the needs, desires and ideologues of the moment.
Are we really no more than just another brick on the blind path of evolution? For many, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ For most people on the planet however, the answer is ‘no.’ Despite years of indoctrination and secularist ideas forced down the throats of billions of people for successive generations, life has a meaning and purpose that extends beyond the here and now.
Progressive and secular ideologies have never been accepted by most people on the planet. If progressive and secular ideologies were subject to the rules of business, they would be deemed ‘also rans.’ Progressive and secular ideologies are influential beyond their numbers because western legal systems allow for their equal influence. They can demand their ideas be imposed on a larger majority because our legal system recognizes their rights to not share in what most of us believe.
In fairness, that is not always a bad thing. Religion cannot and should not be ‘imposed’ on anyone or any group.The government must never be allowed to endorse one religion over another. In a democracy, very few if any, argue that.
The issue today is about who gets to decide what ‘imposition’ means. Is a Christmas tree in an airport imposing faith? Is a Menorah at City Hall equally offensive?
In a roundabout way, those questions were first addressed by Sigmund Freud.
As the 20th century approached and the Victorian Era ended, Freud addressed the issues man had struggled with from the beginning of time. He started a movement that was to examine our search for context and meaning in a contemporary and scientific way, outside the traditional or religious ‘box.’ He attempted to look at the human psyche outside religious or traditional garb.
We are all endowed with primal and more sophisticated needs (see Maslow’s Hierarchy) . We need to survive, we need to eat and we seek physical gratifications of all kinds.These needs are individual and self centered.
We need to be a part of a community and we also need to establish relationships on a more intimate level. So that our community and more intimate relationships with our families and loved ones might flourish, we take comfort in living productive lives and making our little corner of the world a better place. We develop a conscience and establish moral and ethical codes of behavior, all based on shared values.
Lastly, we seek to aspire higher. We retreat back into ourselves and struggle with our spiritual selves and our search for meaning. These things do not come easily. We struggle with the forces that influence our behavior. Sometimes, people are willfully mistreated. Other times, people are abused because we deliberately choose to turn our backs.
Each of us is engaged in some kind of struggle.
Children learn from us the lessons that will determine how they live their lives. If we teach them that life has meaning and purpose beyond the immediate, they will live their lives accordingly. If they learn that life is to be lived for the here and now only, they will live a very different life with a very different set of values.
The stakes are high, because if we are anything less than sure of our personal and communal values our children will pay for our insecurities. As parents and stewards of the next generation, it is incumbent upon us to prepare children to be sure of themselves and unafraid to confront the future.
When our own adversarial and opposing ideas and values come into conflict, children are impacted. They become immobilized and are invariably hurt by the collision.There is an entire generation of the walking wounded that have to pick up the pieces of broken and undefined lives, heal and learn to establish a meaningful life- all because they never knew who they really were. They never knew if their lives has meaning beyond the immediate or if they were a panel in the tapestry of life.
When a person is taught that life is about the here and now only, we ought not be surprised when some kids pick up guns and shoot up malls or churches, or high school or college campuses. They want to be famous, they say. They want the celebrity, they say. In fact,what they really want is meaning. They want to be remembered as something other than a consuming and valueless individual. They want to have a purpose and leave a legacy. Sadly, in a world that encompasses the here and now only, the world legacy has taken on a new meaning. People identify with sleazy politicians and not with priests. Kids want to be singers and not surgeons.
Those things that influence our here and now are meant to be diversions from our real lives- they are not meant to replace them. Entertainment and entertainers are pleasant diversion and offer a few moments respite from our busy and productive lives. Entertainment and entertainers are not meant to serve as the blueprints and models for our lives. Actors and Hollywood values were not meant to replace academics and poets were not meant to replace soldiers who defend our nation and the values of freedom.
Back to Freud. Who are we, really and what drives us? Is it the here and now or is it something else?
The easy answer is the Darwinian one. The here and now, the selfish and self serving model is the engine of the human psyche. We are no different than any other species of animal. Of course, that only addresses our physical survival and not out psychological evolution. The ideas of Social Darwinism were in vogue for a very short time, because those kind of ‘here and now’ ideas justified colonialism, European domination and the wildly unequal distribution of wealth and power. We were perfectly happy with physical evolution and a lot less happy with social evolution. That bothered our conscience. We weren’t quite ready to throw the poor and powerless to the wolves, ‘survival of the fittest’ notwithstanding.
Freud’s primal ‘Id,‘ that part of us that is consumed by the desire and chase for pleasure is tempered by the ‘Ego,’ that part of us that lives in the real world and sees beyond the animal here and now. The Ego introduces rational thought and reality into our interface with the world and people around us. We come to understand compromise and negotiation amongst ourselves and our community via the Ego.
The Ego also serves as the ‘broker’ between the Id and the Superego, that part of us that is moral and ethical. Our Superego wants what is best for our children and society and in fact, we obviate our primal Id in favor of our Superego. We live by rules because because we are all better for it. The here and now is an impediment to personal and communal growth and security.
We are not meant to define our lives by the here and now alone.
Who we are is a complex interaction of our Id, Ego and Superego. If we are not very clear on which of our psychological attributes are most important to our existence, we will live lives of profound inner conflict and anxiety and engage in the most self destructive kinds of defense mechanisms (see Dr Sanity, here).
We are not animals, concerned only with our needs for self gratification and desires for immediate pleasure. We desire that our offspring excel and not just survive.Our history as a species proves that. We may not always get it right, but in the end, we do more often than not. Our greatest failures come about as the result of an active or passive focus on the here and now. We can choose to address problems, pretend they don’t exist or turn a blind eye to them.
If we focus on the here and now only, we have no right to demand anything of others. If narcissism is the order of the day, why should we care who gets hurt in the process of our seeking to fulfill our needs?
There are those who might argue that imposed rules keep us from destroying ourselves, but in truth that is a hollow argument. The best reason people have for coexisting are shared values and ideals- equivalent Superegos that supersede the Id’s here and now. People understand that to be a parent and to live in relative peace is in their own best interest. There is something beyond the here and now.
This is not ‘coexisting’ on the savanna’s of Africa. Humans exist to cooperate, share and elevate each other. If anything, Social Darwinism dictates that rather than exclude, we have thrived as a species because we have included.
It is not the lowest common denominator that has served to elevate man. It has been the highest. While we all have basic and primal instincts, they are overshadowed by our own potential and capacity, a most uniquely spiritual endeavor.
That highest part of ourselves, our Superegos, do not fear the religious message of the Holiday season. Christmas trees and menorahs are meant to elevate and not intimidate. All too often, the here and now of the Id, camouflaged as something other that what it really is, takes center stage- and we’re all the poorer for it.