While I admit to being a political junkie, I also admit to the fact that I have tuned out much of what is happening in the US. It is not that I do not think it is important, I just have had enough. I cannot, at this point, watch it. It is so predictable and such a farce. It also demonstrates so well, what happens when you allow free democracy, to a culture that is not highly educated. I do not just mean the US, I mean most of the free, western world. We asked for it, and we got it. While we have done a pretty good job in the western world of “training” people, we have not done a great job of educating them.
We have created a culture in which material wants generally drive us, and many of us, while we are in careers we are passionate about, the reality is, the dollar is almighty and there is a lack of desire in this culture to be intelligent, critical thinkers. We have a bias towards education and training that gives people good job opportunities. I get that, and understand it. I admit, I fear for my daughter who is in a faculty of education, because of the job market. For me this is two fold. Yes, I want her to get a job and be self-sufficient, but I also want her to get a job and experience all there is to experience in the world of education. I want her to feel fulfilled in her life and her life work. However the job is important so that she can also live and make money.
I am not at all suggesting we put less emphasis on job training. In fact, we probably need more, but we also need to find a way to create people who are thinkers and who understand the bigger picture. We have Brexit and Trump, I think, because of too many people focusing on the small picture. Donald Trump is not going to revive the rustbelt in the US. He may revive coal mining for a while, but it will not last. However, he and his spin doctors will find a way to spin his failures into successes and when necessary, he will yell and make noise and belittle anyone who challenges him. Does art imitate life, or vice versa? I would say the reality tv genre, has created a world that now lives its life, as a reality show TV, and the US elected the worst of them all, as its president. At least our version of “reality star PM wannabe” admits much of his comments on TV were because he was on TV…..they were not real.
And now, we turn our attention to Europe. Anyone remember the last time there was a swing towards the right in Europe? I personally do not remember it, but I know when it was, and I know that it unleashed the worst demons of the 20th century, including fascism, and ironically Communism. Just this past weekend, leaders of right wing parties from France, Italy, and get this….the Netherlands met in Europe to decide exactly how they could capitalize on Brexit and Trump, how they could manipulate the migrant crises to their advantage. The Netherlands? Really? Is it really that long ago, that Canadian troops liberated the Netherlands from these exact type of forces? My, how we have failed. I could be wrong, because I have not looked it up again, but I thought I read that the leader of the far right in the Netherlands is polling around 25%….wow. Who would have thunk it? But then again, when Adolf was in jail for his failed coup, who would have thought it would have ended up like it did? Hyperbole? I hope so.
The migrant crisis, much of it is not well known to the western world. We just know it is happening. How many of us understand why it is happening, and how our own governments contributed to it, with their middle east policies? Yes, it is complex, and I am simplifying it, but alas, it is true.
So, how can we, in our education system, continue to train our kids with the skills they need to go out and be productive members of society in producing GDP, while seriously increasing their knowledge of the world, and their ability to see through what is not real? I know in my experience, part of the problem is there is very little passion to learn it. It is boring to them. I am not sure how to change that? Start it earlier? I just do not know.
Truth is an elusive concept isn’t it? When does a lie become the truth? Perhaps when it is believed by a whole bunch of people? I hope not, but I fear that is the case, and is becoming more so. I like to consider myself a critical consumer of media and am an avid learner of history, but I would bet money, that I have so called “knowledge” that is probably simply not true. When does the lie become the truth? And, if a lie can become the truth, isn’t the truth then quite a shifting concept as well? If there is a process to turn a lie into the truth, versus truth being a solid concept that cannot change, then we are at the mercy of those, who have the tools to change truth to their own ends.
My learning in history over my life has also told me that governments that are on the extreme of either side of the political spectrum, are the ones who tend to use the power they have, to alter truth. As we move toward a political reality that is just that, it is even more important that school systems do everything they can to teach kids to not fall prey to this, otherwise, we will find troubling times down the road.