|Is it just me or do these guys look nonplussed and a little disappointed?|
I'M TEMPTED TO HATE THE WORLD, BECAUSE...
America is a blond bimbo. I can say this, because I actually am a blond bimbo, but I'm a least willing to face it. Now that the Fourth of July is over and we have celebrated our country, its strength, and the blind courage that willed it into existence, we need to toss out the leftover apple pie and dine on more of the humble variety. Never fear, I'm not about to defecate on the 'ol red, white, and blue nor the amber waves of grain. America is awesome (F*ck yeah!) but we too have a lot of poison in our past/present and a lot of things that could use some tweaking. While it took more than a little chutzpah for the initial explorers and settlers to make the pilgrimage from "the continent" to the great unknown, we also kicked a Hell of a lot of people off this land of plenty, because we thought we deserved it more. While the founding fathers had a great passion for independence, freedom, and equality, their government often chose, and still chooses, when to apply those principles to selective groups from time to time (women, racial minorities, homosexuals, etc). Ergo, while we are commendable for the grit, determination, and innovation that we applied to build hope's mere echo of "society" into an actual civilization of commerce and democracy, we can also be gigantic A-holes. (A for America).
There are no words, really, to express how much I respect this country and what it represents. America was born of both great passion and unstoppable drive. It is a place established by the sweat of the worthy and balanced by the style of the educated. History's favorite forefathers could translate Latin into Greek ambidextrously in some seriously impressive penmanship. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the plain letters of correspondence between such intellectuals as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and such major players, remain marvels of literature, if not grammar alone. The truth about America is that it was not "founded." It was not just "established"-- Well, here we are. The land may have been stumbled upon accidentally on purpose, but the United States as we know it was created with specific purpose. It was a predetermined oasis that people believed in before it even existed. It was to be the landing place, not necessarily of the right to live, but the right to live as one chooses-- and without tyranny.
The shackles that were escaped when those brave and lucky SOBs boarded the Mayflower were both literal and figurative. When people discuss the word "Freedom," they often ponder it on too superficial a level. Freedom is not just about a liberated existence in terms of governmental control. Freedom is the liberation of the mind, which fuels the passion of man's heart and equally unleashes his, for lack of a better word, "soul." Freedom is elevation. It is an opportunity to stretch boundaries, discover, and perhaps not so much claim your space as comprehend your place within all of space. It is an admission of humility and a respect for that which is bigger than you. America itself is an idea-- a thinking man's idea. It is an idea that there is or at least should be more to life and that we are worthy of that 'more'; that we should reach for more. The initial formation of America was, therefore, a representation of the fact that the line between intelligent beings and subjugated fools is nothing more than exposure. America was wide open and inviting, and our brazen asses were drawn to its endless possibilities. America was a door opening to an elevated 50 states of being.
|Aka challenge your thought processes, because the moment you reach an|
immovable conclusion, your evolution has stopped and you are
condemned to the island of perpetual dumbness, dummy.
Thoughts lie if they just lie there.
Explain to me then why we insist on dumbing ourselves down? Why has education taken a serious, serious dive? Why is teaching cursive to children even up for a debate? What the eff (F for Freedom) is going on?!?!?!
There are serious side effects to living in a society that can obtain aforementioned 'elevation' with the simple push of a button. While we have an incredible accessibility to information at our very fingertips, we also take this miracle for granted. Additionally, the superficial playing field of the modern marketplace leaves fewer options for us in terms of fiscal participation. The game has changed, not just because the modern career war is primarily waged in the final frontier of the internet-- which can be navigated by one dude on a laptop with no co-pilot, thus fewer jobs, unemployment, etc-- but then there is the economy to contend with. We need to keep the world turning at an incredibly rapid pace but we are afforded less-than-bountiful compensation. In addition, as the current generations morph into a species built on unhealthy technological co-dependence, the younger members of our clan understandably suffer from agoraphobia-- 3D life outside the box-- when they have to step outside their phones. We are, as always, ill-prepared for what is to become of us, but the present situation-- perhaps because I am being absorbed into the legion of official 30+ adulthood-- seems more profoundly terrifying than the graduation into the workplace that my parents described.
The debate over the multiple sources of our cultural malaise could be waged all day, but the important problem now is not so much why we're here, but "How do we fix it?" And how do we get smart when the education system isn't able to give proper attention to the kids of the world nor prepare them as best as possible for the ever-in-flux nature of "real life?" (Every teacher in this world needs a gigantic, God damn hug). This above all else shouldn't be ignored. If nothing else, we should be encouraging kids to think so that their minds are as malleable as their every changing environment. I mean, what's gonna happen when they enter the big bad world and have to fend for themselves? By not properly educating our youths, we're not raising survivors nor handing down useful life lessons. We're inadvertently building subservient tools. This way, all the money can continue filtering out to the place it belongs-- loaded pockets-- instead of into things like better learning programs for kids. How are we to foster young minds into ambitious dreamers like Frederick Douglas-- who kicked his own ass so he could possess the greatest of human liberties by educating himself-- when we are reiterating the bare facts and not nurturing young minds? The brain is more than a receptacle for trivia. It is an organism that grows and shapes depending on the access it has to the prospect of "more." That exposure, that expansion: STIMULATION. So much for Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Einstein, and Nikola Tesla. With the help of the flaccid government, kids aren't encouraged to dig in to the hows and whys. We're encouraged to grab our diplomas, if we make it that far, and play candy crush. The national conspiracy to keep us dumb may just be the most perfect (and tragic) murder ever.
"But, what about the children," [she said in a funny voice]. But it's not funny. Seriously. In addition to the economic implications, there's the continuing reference to the fact that the bulk of Gen-Y was raised by what is referred to as "helicopter parents." We wonder why the world is going down the tubes, why "these damn kids today" don't seem to care about anything, have no ambition, have bad attitudes, and think "everything is supposed to be handed to them." Well, it's your own damn fault, America. It's your fault, because you decided that grading is considered too harsh. Competition is deemed unfair. The difficult subjects in school are too hard. Let's rate everybody with moons, hearts, and clovers. (Pause for Arrested Development shout out: "Okay, I know you got a crocodile in spelling, but this has gone too far"). While I'm all for the notion of preaching equality and mutual respect for your peers, I feel like there too should be a bit of impetus to get good grades, and absolutely the fostering of each individual's creativite/intellectual penchants. So, maybe Joe sucks at math and he gets a little irritated when Tom gets another A+. Well, I bet Tom's jealous of Joe's mad guitar skills. No one's gonna die. You don't steal Tom's calculator and give it to Joe; you don't give Tom the guitar. You encourage both to push themselves in all directions so their supple brains are as well-rounded as possible, and you equally support them in indulging their strengths. If you don't, kids are going to stop pushing themselves, because there is no reward for excelling. (Hell, I'd be candy crushin' it too)!
|I pledge allegiance to David Bowie, a'cause the man|
makes you 'tink.
I have witnessed the results of this tragedy as it manifests in the modern work ethic. While trying to guide the ship of my department with too few hands on deck, I have endured the ineptitude of modern youth's initiation into adulthood close up and personal. I literally can not find anyone to fill the empty positions in my department for the simple reason that no one wants to or is willing to actually work. I've had to sit through countless interviews with dead-eyed applicants whose enthusiasm for the available jobs are non-friggin-existent. I've had to let countless "temps" go, because they are terrified of the telephone, spend their days on Facebook instead of doing work, or act like I've asked for their firstborn child when I've merely requested a photocopy. Work is no longer translated to the youths of "America the Proud" as a natural precursor to livelihood, let alone a bank account, let alone the ever dreamed of "life of plenty." The only plenty we have regards slack. And guess what: it's learned behavior-- the one thing that we've managed to pass on, due to our opinion that education (particularly early ed) is passé.
Basically, we've misconstrued the "Equality" part so prominently symbolized in our very flag. Equality, at the end of the day, is nothing but the immediate permission of exposure and opportunity to all. Unfortunately, too many misread this as, "Everyone be the same now." So, children lagging behind are encouraged to just sit there and be comfortable with their confusion and underachievement, and those who excel are either induced to slow down and give others a chance or are deprived of the proper recognition they deserve for any scholastic, athletic, or extra-curricular success-- someone's feelings could be hurt! Both the slower student and the faster student are being abysmally betrayed. The only lesson they learn is, "Why bother?" There is neither punishment nor reward. We don't push our future leaders to be leaders; we coach them to coast along, because someone else will "clean it up," and good God you don't want that to be you-- (in this economy, you won't get paid for it). Am I the only who finds this championing of ignorance utterly deplorable, not to mention unpatriotic?
Life doesn't stop. We may be sitting pretty, but despite appearances, this country isn't done being built, and we aren't going to contribute to its continued maintenance by sitting on our hands. We aren't going to make it without people thinking outside the box, indulging in imagination and experimentation, having the intelligence and fortitude to analyze the current system and standard of living, and laying the groundwork for progress. Progress and evolution are not things we should be kicking to the curb. They should be chronic, never-ending, and eternal. These fundamental attitudes should be so well-ingrained into our natures that it isn't even a question to pass it on to those that follow. So, why are we crippling ourselves and condemning the future of what was once the greatest country in the world to the status of "Couch Potato of the Universe?"
America, you are lame. I love you, but you are lame, because instead of putting focus into the improvement of the educational system, and lots of it, you spread the word that thinking is not only tough, unnecessary, oh, and not as important as war.
Yes, I am tempted to hate the world...
BUT I DON'T, BECAUSE...
|X for X-actly. Wait...|
I am a patriot. I rocked the 4th of July like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando. And I have faith of us. While I don't believe that "putting a boot in your ass" is the America way, I think that the spirit behind that incredibly maladministered lyric (WTF?) is spot on. We should be kicking ass; we should be taking names, just in a much more civilized and structured fashion. Want to know why everything is Made in China? Want to know why Japan ranks higher than us in the Smartest Countries tally? BECAUSE THEY ARE SMARTER THAN US. They aren't doing anything we can't do nor do better. They simply educate the Hell out of their children. Their ace up the sleeve is actually their vulnerability: what they have that we don't is the impetus for improvement. We are a wealthier country than they are. They have to fight to attain what we have (and are losing). They have ambition, which is something we could easily re-attain, if only we weren't too dumb to realize it.
We're also too dumb to realize that we aren't safe. We aren't impervious, (Thank you, September 11th-- you still hurt). We can't trust our own government, because they are shady mo-fos who spy on us and aren't even slick enough to cover their tracks. Oh, and our economy is crap, but you knew that. The sources of these problems aren't going to fix themselves, and the rest of the world isn't going to slow down and wait for us to shift from Neutral back into Drive either. So what are we waiting for? Perhaps to hit bottom. Maybe that kind of hit is what we have to take to regain both perspective and initiative.
I say this not in a competitive vein, but in a general one. We shouldn't grow to become/stay the number one powerhouse on planet Earth, but should grow for growing's sake. Whatever gene of defiance and enhanced existential desire is lying dormant within us is still there. We just need to nurture it. Some of us already are. One of my good friends is a superstar progressive who works for JumpStart, an organization that focuses on improving the system of early education. Television has proven that there are indeed some fifth graders who are much smarter than the average adult. Babies may be wearing knee pads now-- to protect their fragile knees from the rigors of crawling (Meredith's brain splatters across the back wall)-- but some of their moms are taking them to sign language classes. (What the heck? Where was that when I was 8 months old)?
If nothing else, our curiosity is still there, and this is reflected in the way we react to art-- music, literature, film, etc. These venues, which give vent to our continuing frustrations are the sources with which we ignite our thinking. An artistic medium-- be it the intellectually questionable television or the latest lyric that makes you stop, drop, and crank your wheels and gears-- poses a question, makes us question ourselves, and instigates a discussion. We do want to know more, because we are more. We are stardust. Okay, I know that is the worst and most pretentious statement ever, but still: that fact is huge. We are the earth and the planets and the cosmos and the strange emergence of life out of that chaos. If we can not only emerge from that but thrive, we can most certainly read some god-damn books. Why deprive ourselves of what we want, which was, is, and always will be more? Why not enjoy the stimulation of learning something new, inviting a point of view that contradicts your own, if only to challenge yourself to think and reassess what your were once so certain of before? And good God, why not take an interest not only in what your kid is learning at school, but whether he is truly learning?
|This is the product of the current educational system.|
When I was in preschool, grade school, high school, I hated it. I hated all of them. I'm not going to lie, I was a total window-gazer, a clock watcher. I would consistently hear Pink Floyd's "The Wall" in my head when walking into the the front doors of my seven hour, daily penitentiary. I let my parents know it too. My Dad would counteract my sorry, ungrateful ass by telling me that school, including the subjects I hated, was doing me a great service. School was "teaching [me] to think." He was right. (He always is, but then that's because he is smarter, better educated, and wiser than I. Burn). The line between "smart" and "stupid" is surprisingly thin. The difference is the push. The 'push' being one toward learning something, bettering yourself, and not basing your exploration of life on MTV's programming (M for Moratorium). This is the metaphorical road that is now less and less traveled by. Happiness never came from nothing. Get off your ass and pursue it again, 'Murica!