Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Free Market of Education in Action

A lesson learned that doesn't compel you to action when faced with opposition to it, either wasn't learned well or wasn't worth learning.

I'm dead tired, been working late, should be sleeping and so a slight rant is coming, over a couple recent comments, conversations and emails which have been repeatedly popping up the idea that those who think successfully restoring America depends upon Education... now!, are somehow opposed to those who think it depends upon taking Action... now!, and both believe the other is putting everything at risk.

That’s like being asked to choose between ghosts and zombies. Flawed as they may be, personally, I’ll stick with people, thanks.


America exists solely through its ideas and their understanding - philosophically, religiously, legally and in the Arts - if the understanding of those ideas are lost, whatever it is you'd like to call this geographical expanse which will remain behind, it wouldn't be America, no matter whether it leans to the left or in imitation of the right. Sorry. Fact.

But the ideas which made America possible are not simply bullet points that can be memorized; they won't be learned or relearned simply by reading or even memorizing the Constitution and the Declaration - don't get me wrong, they're a good place to start, but facts and points alone are of no more use than the tests you crammed for in school. They have to all tie together into every aspect of your life, it's an extended proposition, philosophically, religiously, legally as well as in the Arts, and that takes time to internalize. Learning it all begins with bullet points and documents and books, but that is just a starting point, it's got to be integrated and understood as a vital part of your life. Education that isn’t also lived, isn't yet an education, even the best lessons take time to sink in.

So in the meantime... what, you sit around and do nothing? No, obviously, you can't. Less obvious is the fact that taking action, even flawed action, is a part of the educational process - what you actually do, is part of of coming to understand what you should do - it's called life.

As big a proponent of Education (not schooling mind you, Education) as I am, it can’t all be learned before we can take action... and effective action cannot be taken without at least some education. And while it's true we don't have the luxury of time on our side, guess what? When starting from a point of ignorance and inexperience, as we are, no matter how determined we may be, that means we are going to be dealing with some healthy doses of imperfection – get used to it already!

There are no quick fixes, no fast solutions! This is going to be a long, long, haul – best get that through your head.

We've lost serious ground in at least three of those four areas (philosophically, religiously, legally and the Arts), and it took over 150 years to erase as much of America from the public's mind as has been lost. That's not something that'll be replaced in an election. In my most dizzyingly optimistic moments, I estimate that if everything went impossibly in our favor, it would take at least 50 years to restore us to the point where the spirit of America and the Constitution would be able to be understood and fiercely defended, once again.

And there would still be miles to go before we could sleep.

Education is extremely important... but if anyone is thinking that we're going to put some classes on and win it all back, they need to look a bit closer at the problem.

Action is needed, now, action that is based upon as much of an emotional appeal as we can possibly generate - and clearly link to - our core principles.

That's tough to do when those core principles aren't understood by large percentages of the electorate. A lot of the actions we take, and the people we elect to take them, are going to fall far, far short of the ideal. But we can't sit paralyzed waiting for it all to come together - we can't sit shivering before the fireplace and tell it "First give me some heat, then I'll put some wood in you and light it."

We do need to act, now! And we do need to understand why, now! And we have to do so knowing that we will fall far short in bother areas for a long time to come. It's a painful process and it can't be avoided.

Every election and candidate and bill and measure is important, but they will not be solutions - not now, or in the next year, two or four years to come, or more - we delude ourselves if we think a single candidate, policy or even groups of them, are going to fix things. They will not and they cannot be solutions, not when what they are intended to accomplish, is not understood by those voting for them or implementing them!

But what they are, are vital beach heads, and we must take them, as many as we possibly can. If we don't, we're dead - right here and right now. And if we don't spread the lessons that need to be learned, then we'll be dead in the long run too. If we make the mistake of viewing these two approaches as opposing strategies, then neither has a shred of a chance of succeeding anywhere or anywhen. We can't simply focus on creating scholars of the Federalist Papers before trying to win the Presidency, School Board member, or any of the offices in between, and likewise, we can't consider trying to win those offices first, before bothering with spreading the education needed to have them be effective. Each has got to drive the other without opposing them at the same time.

Each call to action should promote as much of a key idea or principle as is possible, in each election, and push the idea that it is important to learn more about those ideas and principles – but without demanding that they all be learned immediately. That's a daunting task, what has been lost cannot be regained in a year or two, it just can't. Hopefully we can do better than "Jefferson was great, look both ways before crossing the street", but it's gonna feel that way to a lot of us for quite a while to come.

The same goes for candidates. We need good ones, sure, but seeking a perfectly principled candidate where one isn't possible (they've got to come from somewhere, right? Where? And if found, who would understand that what they understand, is important to take a stand upon?) - is just as nuts as thinking that simply stirring up emotions and fervor, without some ideas and principles to back them up, would somehow be effective or worthwhile - either one is a prescription for failure now and forever. We've got to go to political war with the people we've got, not the ones we'd like to have.

As you can see, it's going to be a long and painful process.

The left has it easy; with all the understanding that has largely been successfully lost, they really only need to appeal to the thinnest and basest of natural emotions... which is especially convenient, as that's all they have.

We can't. Our ideas need to be understood across the expanse of philosophical, religious, legal and artistic concerns, in order to be properly understood as being valuable. But seriously, it took a couple thousand years to develop the ideas that made America possible; do you really think that can be regained in either an election cycle or a single lesson? But we also can't avoid starting with what they've left us (and ourselves) to work with. We just need to start, and not complain so much about what we have to start working with.

But on the bright side, we've come farther in the last two years than I would have imagined possible. And you know what? It didn't happen due to some grand Educational plan or campaign strategy. The threat from the left to America was perceived across the land - it wasn't clearly understood by many in the beginning, but it was perceived (there's a very big clue there to the nature of knowledge), and people have been seeking answers to that threat ever since, and they've been seeking after those actions and candidates as seem to them best able to block that threat, and they haven't needed a single organized program to tell them how to do that either.

Both are driven by people who saw a need in that area which most concerned them.

The principles of the free market do work, and not just in economics.

Those promoting Education and those promoting action, and all points between... are doing what they do best - that's what they should be and need to be doing, and they shouldn't be trying to get the other to do what they themselves are doing - watching both sides natter at each other is like watching tire mfg's and engine mfg's trying to tell each other how to do their jobs. You aren't the same, but you do complement each other, or at least you can, if you'll just do what you do best, and leave the other to do the same.

You don't need to go over to their side, and they don't need to come over to yours. What we do need to do is cross promote each other as much as is possible, take a moment here and there to point out how much we are tied together, doing what can be done for 'their' cause, without slighting our own efforts too much.

Come on people. Cross promotion, not cross fire.

That being said... does anyone really think anything is going to be accomplished without some serious arguments amongst friends?



P.S. And that's why we don't write rants at midnight. For those who read this post prior to 7:45 a.m.{er... 9:00a.m.} CST - Sorry. For those reading it after then, it was even worse than it is now. I think I'll leave it up as a painful reminder to click 'Save as Draft' not 'Publish Post', and then sleep on it!

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