What can we do?
People are groping for a secure framework. They know what hasn't worked but not what will. Some people are needlessly resigning themselves to act as if nothing will work. Presenting ideas that have proven themselves in the past can helpideas that have stood the test of time and that, just recently we may have discovered how to explain. So armed, people contemplating resignation may reconsider.
Experts aren't enough.
Examples of misplaced trust are prominent in the minds of the present generation:
- Richard Nixon, at the time of Watergate said "I am not a crook," and proceeded to obstruct justice.
- The Vietnam wartime statements of the government did not mesh with what we saw reported.
- Murder/Suicides at Jim Jones Peoples Temple at Jonestown, Guyana, November 18, 1978.
- Bagwaan Rashneesh ++++
No longer can one depend on others to determine what actions might be appropriate. One must learn to recognize the difference for oneself. People see their trust has been shattered. They are ready for a framework for decisionmaking.
Take advantage of experience.
We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching, and the spirited and noble-minded observations of those who have applied themselves to these problems which are capable of immediate practical applicationnot far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speechand learn them so well that words become works.1
It takes more than information to inoculate ourselves.
Information needs to be brought into balance.into balance both home and abroad. At home we can help ourselves understand how to use information as strength. Motivation does not require aggressiveness, poetics, or invocation of abstract concepts that have served previously as touchstones to patriotic fervor.
Inoculating others is equally important.
Most American wars have been fought away from homes and families. Violence in war has seemed distant and unreal. Recent television broadcasts have conveyed a more accurate image. This lesson is not just for Americans and should be brought to the attention of everyone who would resort to war or the threat of it. Any restriction that might hinder this communication should be opposed.
Spread the process, not just the word.
There are some specific ideas we must do our best to encourage. People must be exposed to what precisely is worth protecting and, more to the point, why its worth protecting. This has to do with thought. Each individual so armed is an independent army. Each person finds purpose. Each person finds strength.
First, we can turn this weakness into strength by speeding this same information and access to other cultures that are potential adversaries. Free access to any information that exists for anyone who wants it is essential. We must press for it. Object strenuously to any attempt to inhibit the availability of information to people. Insist on scrupulous honesty. Publicly admit and correct our own errors since our commitment is to our future rather than to our past. The truth is the truth, warts and all.
Secondly, we can turn this weakness into strength by helping other people understand that, although a pacifist by good sense, there are certain times and certain circumstances in which I would fight. We must help people understand what things might be worth fighting for, in spite of the potential carnage. Socrates understood this. Socrates fought, by all reports ferociously, when necessary.
Hack at the root of evil.
++++(change) I read recently how some teachers are going to start in elementary school trying to keep children off drugs. While a laudable goal, the teachers are trying to resolve the symptoms rather than the problem. The efforts are destined to fail. They are not dealing with the fundamental problem of how people think. We do need an alternative for chemically absent kids sitting in class. We must begin to teach that kid the things that are useful and practical and that he is in a position to recognize as such. They should be exposed to ways that at once encourage consciousness and are directly applicable to the problems that the kids have.
The teachers of today just go on repeating things in a rigmarole fashion, annoy the students with constant questions, and repeat the same things over and over again.. . .What they give to the students is wrong in the first place and what they expect of the students is just as wrong. As a result, the students hide their favorite readings and hate their teachers, are exasperated at the difficulty of their studies and do not know what good it does them. Although they go through the regular course of instruction, they are quick to leave it when they are through. This is the reason for the failure of education today.2
Many children are bored. Some try and cannot concentrate. Perhaps little is worthwhile to concentrate on. How do we assure that tomorrow does not bring the same problem? As one teacher said, "Give me something to do, and it can't be reading." My response is to give them good teachers. I want to train the teachers.
. . .part of my joy in learning is that it puts me in a position to teach;3
++++(move or remove)I have a different perception of history, of thought, of consciousness; of what a root cause of many of the difficulties that people have in the task of simply negotiating life.
If we have a problem with inflation, education, crime, happiness, I could go on there seems to be a common root. Fail to deal with the root and only symptoms are treated. Constructive effect can occur dealing with symptoms, but it is at the root that there is the best hope for the greatest positive effect.4
What results can be hoped for?
What is there to do? First, make a statement that explains that perception. Second, explain why it is useful. Third, explain why other approaches are insufficient.
Developing thoughtfulness will threaten many conventional institutions.
School curricula will be profoundly affected.
The principle aim of this dreadful hocus-pocus was not to impart knowledge (assuming that knowledge could ever be attained or imparted at all), but rather 'to cram the pupils, as rapidly and as painlessly as possible, with the largest conceivable outfit of current axioms, in all departments of human thought.' In other words, its aim was not to educate human persons but simply to turn out good citizens and a good citizen was one whose views and conduct differed as little as possible from those of all other citizens.5
After all, the institution has never been particularly sure what it was trying to teach. History will minimize rote learning of dates and major events stressing instead structures of everyday life described by Fernaud Braudel, the lessons of history reviewed by the Durants, and realizations that come from historiography that our interpretations are colored by our minds. Physical education will emphasize more balance and co-operative competition.
Writing will find stronger emphasis as intellectual weightlifting. Bacon's observation will serve: "Reading maketh a full man, conversation a ready man, and writing an exact man."
Advertising will shed its emphasis on subtle (and not so subtle) duplicity pointing out, instead, honest functional distinctions. Art will remain part of advertising. Advertising will turn more factual: What may be obtained where, for how much, and product comparison.
Government paternalism will lose favor. The public will have less tolerance for political posturing. A return of statesmanship with its higher regard for the long term view will become prized.
This emphasis on the moral basis of government is fundamental to Confucius' teaching. He said, `Guide them by edicts, keep them in line with punishments, and the common people will stay out of trouble but will have no sense of shame. Compulsion and punishment can, at best, ensure outward conformity. The common people will stay clear of trouble not because they are ashamed of doing wrong but because they fear punishment.' In contrast to this: `Guide them by virtue, keep them in line with the rites, and they will, besides having a sense of shame, reform themselves' "6
Developing thoughtfulness encourages specific maturity at an earlier age. With no loss of childhood or innocence, there is no reason playfulness should be discouraged in an adult. Ancient Greeks were the first culture to develop play to a high art. Playfulness is part of the encouragement to retain a balanced and whole nature.
Early consciousness should pose no threat to the individual. The only threat is to thoughtlessness and traditions heretofore imposed primarily by intimidation and misunderstanding.
1 Seneca, Lucius Annaeus. Letters from a Stoic. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1969. g. 211.
2 Confucius. The Wisdom of Confucius. Lin Yutang, ed. New York: Random House, 1938, 1966. Pg. 246.
3 Seneca, Lucius Annaeus. Letters from a Stoic. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1969. Pg.39.
5 Fecher, Charles A. Mencken: A Study of his Thought. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1978. Pg. 147.
6 Confucius. The Analects. Translation and introduction by D. C. Lau. Harmondsworth,. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1979. Pp.33-34.
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