January 18, 2011

Are you a Thinker or a Numb Scull?

How do you develop your own dream when you are constantly following behind the aspirations of another person? Let me add this disclaimer before I go any further: I realize that there are leaders and there are followers and that this is the natural order of things. I would also add, that even good followers should have asset that they bring to the vision of the one that they are following.

What I am finding is the most of our current social trends are at the hand of what someone says is the right look or the right style or the right motivation or the right neighborhood or the right kind of vehicle, etc.  Most Americans brag about the liberties that are afforded to those of us in this country, but I would argue that most Americans dont really take advantage of such liberties. For example:

1. America does not completely censor the books that are allowed to be read by its citizens, but the average American doesnt read a book a year.

2. American society allows for the freedom of speech, but most American allow someone else to speak on their behalf- not just on minor issues, but on the major issues that affect society, government, and human rights.

3. Americans claim that we represent quality in the treatment of all humanity, but we feed our pets food with prime cuts of meat, all the while showing little to no concern for the starving and destitute human beings in this country.

Numb = unresponsive, unfeeling

Thinker = one of evolved intellectual power

We turn a blind eye to many injustices in this country or we justify why we dont make more effort to address the situations.  There was a time when educated people took pride in the ability to discuss and debate topics. Educated people sharpened their minds and their critical thinking skills by engaging in dialog. It was ok to disagree, with the understanding that there were proofs to validate one's perspective. They even congratulated one another when someone had defended their stance on a subject well. This was a proud thing for educated people to do. Now fast forward to the present, when people are afraid to disagree, afraid to discuss anything with someone of a differing mindset, and surely not willing to debate for the sake of pointing out the factors to each side of a given issue.

I stand amazed at the number of educated people who cant express themselves well on paper or verbally. I stand amazed at how few educated people are able to discuss basic topics of world issues, and even the basics of etiquette. Much of today's common function is what people of yesteryear would refer to as uncouth. But yet, the caste system is very much at work in this country, whether we are willing to admit it or not. I would argue that our response to admitting that the caste system really still exist in this country has manifested in the counter move to dumb down the entire social appearance of American citizens on every level so that it appears that we are all equal. Everybody wears blue jeans. There was a time that jeans (and overalls) were the attire strictly of blue collar works, but now it is fashion with great jeans reaching into the $100s.

What I mean to say, Americans have transformed from dinner at the table with a complete place setting to eating drive thru in the car.  We have exchanged face to face conversation with text messaging (which is totally ruining our ability to spell, use proper grammar, and express complete thoughts).

I am amazed at how many children are graduating from high school with little to no knowledge of classic literature. And now with the current popularity of the 'two years - get a four year degree programs' all over the place, even college educated people are not very familiar with classic works of literature. It is no wonder that we are losing our ability to compete in the world market. What ever happened to the pride in accomplishment that came from having an EARNED DEGREE?  Now it is fashionable to just have a degree, regardless of if you got it by buying it or by attending some drive thru version of academia.

Do I sound bitter?  Well I might just have a right to.   When someone says they have a college degree, I get excited assuming that I have a great opportunity to engage in healthy dialog and most of the time, they cant even discuss the Nightly News. I enjoy learning from others who may have more knowledge than I on some topic or concept........Simply because I spent some good years of my life reading Socrates, Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Barth........etc--- the list could go on. I even had to take Astronomy in college, why because I needed credits in Science and thought it would contain less to memorize than taking another Biology course (I was wrong). I really had no interest in the sky to that extent, but I set looking at slides of sky that all seemed to look alike to me, in an attempt to understand how to look at the sky with a trained eye. I still cant do much more than find the North Star and the dippers. But at that time, I learned enough to pass the test and I can still remember some of the concepts- enough to enjoy a great sci-fi movie, at least.

 But all of this was based on the fact that the University took pride in graduating well-rounded, educated citizens into the work force of America. The school had a reputation to uphold, and therefore set the standards by which achievement in the learning environment would indicate that an employer seeing the University listed on a resume could assume that the individual was not a walking unthinking, only able to accomplish one type of task individual.

Being able to put a respected institution of higher learning on one's resume sets the tone for what the world should expect of that individuals ability to function in the working world and in society at large. I can remember students protesting policies on campus and setting up rallies to address and make people aware of world issues = students had a voice and used it wisely. Students were aware of how their actions or lack of actions affected the social tone of the world. I remember having classmates who wanted to impact the world with interaction in world affairs and local concerns.

Now I am amazed at how few people are aware of the beginnings and transitions that have taken place in Liberation Theology. Most Americans are not aware of the injustices in Latin America that lead to the writings by Catholics regarding the treatment of human beings for the sake of economic, social and political greed.  Many dont know that this would later become the concept used by writers and voices of the struggle, such as James Cone. Many dont realize that much of their own theological need is for a current voice of Liberation. The world is in need of a savior, but the world is also in great need of theological virtues.

But yet, more people tune in daily to listen to a chemically dependent college drop-out who spouts hatred, fear and propaganda, than are willing to invest in their own mental thinking ability. It speaks to the laziness of not wanting to seek out answers and just waiting for someone else to give you the right answers or the life that you want..... It scares me that we are so arrogant in this country that we dont realize how far we have gotten from setting personal standards of accomplishment - other than to see who can go into the most debt to have the newest car or the newest thrown together ply-wood covered with siding house or carry the newest color of Coach on our arms. 

What do we as individuals stand for these days? What do we represent by our own actions? Are we moral or just full of morale? The brain that God gave you, what good to yourself, and society, is coming from how you make use of your God Given Mind?