Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Retraction...

Thank you, Rob, for pointing out my huberus. I have always been somewhat loose with my words, and even looser with my thoughts. When I was little (and you can ask anyone related to me about this), I used to say, "If I ruled the world, I'd kill all the stupid people. They drive me crazy!" Often times, they still do. But more and more I realize that they drive me crazy because they remind me of some part of myself that I hate, some part of myself that I've been working to fix but cannot.

That being said, I wrote part of my last post hastily and said some things that I didn't necessarily mean. Do I think most of humanity is "stupid"? No. I think most of humanity is trying as hard as they can. Do I think most Americans are "stupid"? I'm more tempted to say yes here, but again I'll refrain. I don't think people are stupid, I think they're deceived.

The problem is not a lack of mental capability. The problem is deception. The education in our country is lacking. It's getting worse by the day. Children are being taught not to think for themselves, but to think about what others want them to think. The No Child Left Behind Act is a PERFECT example of this. School systems are being geared around standardized tests and they either keep or lose their funding and accredidation depending on how well their students do. This means, ultimately, that kids are being taught how to pass standardized tests; they are NOT being taught how to think or how to learn, which is really what education is about. They are being taught the answers to the question, not the ways to question the questions.

What does this mean? It means that the public is being duped into things. We take people's word far too much. We listen to the news and form opinions based off of 30 second slanderous television adds or 5 second sound bytes. It's just not adequate enough to make educated decisions.

Then comes the ego. Equipped with our new opinions formed on faulty foundations, we go to war. We want to hold on to our opinions and we want to be right, so we'll argue. We'll preach what we think from the mountain tops. All of us. We're all guilty of it. This blog is proof. It creates a closed-minded, hurtful, hateful attitude towards the world.

So what's the key to escaping this? It's an attitude change, I think. We've got to really, really care about things; and more importantly, we have to know WHY we care about those things. We've also got to realize that people are just people. Everyone has struggles, everyone is trying their hardest to cope with what this life has given them, and everyone wants what's best for themselves and their family. We've got to learn to be okay with being wrong. In fact, I think we have to learn to expect to be wrong and love every minute of being shown the error of our ways. This means not loving ourselves and being right all the time. It means, instead, loving the truth, loving the quest for self-betterment, loving what's right, and by extension loving each other.

So, no, I don't think everyone is stupid. I do think we are wrought with issues, though. I think a lot of people are under-educated and ill-equipped to be making public policy decisions that are going to affect the lives of their neighbors, but it's not their fault. It's all of our faults. We have egos, we often thirst for money and power, we put the almighty dollar ahead of our neighbor's well-being, and we propagate war and hatred with our insistence on being right - and thus being closed-minded.

But the reason it makes me mad isn't because I think I'm above it all or have some esoteric academic asshole view of the world. It makes me mad because I see it in myself every day and am constantly battling to minimize this mentality in my own life, often to little or no avail. And maybe, just maybe, if I can help other people see it in themselves and change to be a bit more open-minded and loving, I can become a bit more loving too. By helping others, I'm helping myself.


Chris Panza said...

What is an "esoteric academic asshole view of the world"?

Mark said...

When I think of that phrase, I'm reminded of our first week in Classical Problems. We were studying why it is that we do philosophy, and you said that there is a tendency among philosophers to think that since they know more about philosophy, they are smarter than everyone else. It somehow qualifies them as super-human academics. I'm trying to avoid any kind of mentality like that. I don't think that studying makes me better than anyone in any way. I may know more than most in a particular field, but that doesn't give me a right to put others down who don't have that knowledge, right?

Chris and Christie said...


I guess it depends on what we're talking about. What I'm hesitant to do -- even granted my point about some philosophers -- is buy into a kind of anti-academia meme. Of course, again, the subject under consideration will matter, but overall I do think knowledge matters, and that learning counts.

So I'd resist a position where knowledge about certain things doesn't count as a plus over not having that knowledge.

I just think you need to be careful when you use that phrase, that's all. Much as there is a lot of over-intellectualism in the world (of the kind that I remarked upon in class) there is also a whole lot of anti-intellectualism in the world too, and you don't buy into it that either.

Chris and Christie said...

Don't "want to buy into" -- sorry.

rob winger said...

great blog, mark. i, too, can be brash in my assumptions, my observations, and my declarations. i believe this is more from the heart of a philosopher than the one i commented on. we all do have the tendency to believe what we want--or worse yet, believe what those with the soundbites want.
you remind me to seek the truth on both sides of every issue.
i love watching you grow. keep at it!