TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS
Day by day November approaches.
Question. Will Americans elect “leaders” who will restore America to its former greatness? Are America’s citizens, especially her youth, capable of electing a congress and an executive qualified to lead us back to the status of a respected world leader?
Don’t count on our education system to produce knowledgeable citizens. The education establishment rejected classical education, architect of our founders and great leaders, long ago.
From the introduction by Charles Grosvenor Osgood, Ph.D., to Boswell’s “Life of Samuel Johnson” comes this definition. “But the supreme end of education, we are told, is expert discernment in all things -- the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and genuine to the bad and the counterfeit. This is the supreme end of the talk of Socrates, and it is the supreme end of the talk of Johnson. ‘My dear friend,’ said he, ‘clear your mind of cant; don’t think foolishly.’ The effect of long companionship with Boswell’s Johnson is just this. As Sir Joshua (Reynolds) said, ‘it brushes away the rubbish; it clears the mind of cant; it instills the habit of singling out the essential thing; it imparts discernment.’”
This definition doesn’t exactly square with the contemporary view of education.
The end of education is not to “get a job.” This alien notion was imported from the former Soviet Union during its communist heyday and facilitated by the USSR’s use of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to further its own ends. Nor should the end of education be complicit with the latest fads of social and environmental indoctrination. Nor should education be a willy-nilly accumulation of unrelated factoids instilled over twelve years of babysitting.
It’s not the fault of contemporary education to which the regression of American culture can be ascribed. That would be far too simplistic. Our predicament runs far deeper.
The United States encountered an unanticipated cultural shift influencing not only education but religion, politics and all manner of public discourse. The very culture from which our freedom arose is at risk of being undone when citizens are successfully deluded into apathy by petty diversions and entertainments. Sociologist Neil Postman from the University of Pennsylvania articulated the cataclysmic cultural shift in his now-classic book “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”
Postman’s most important observation is that television, the ever blinking eye, teaches us to live a life without context. TV programs have nothing to do with anything that came before or comes after their broadcast. Commercials are imbedded without context. Accordingly, we learn to view life as a series of unconnected, random events, entertaining at best, but bearing no significance to a larger perspective. As a culture, we have lost our ability to integrate thoughts and experiences into a greater tapestry. The television medium trains us to live life in tiny segments unrelated to what went before or comes after any event.
As we transition from a television-based culture to a computer-based culture, the image remains central. Form (TV images and, later, computer technology) excludes content. Weighty and serious discourse wrestling with important matters is far less possible. Public discourse is no longer about rational argument but about entertainment and appearance. A frequent, rapid change of scenes must cater to a passive audience with a short attention span. Short attention spans do not allow time to lay out rational arguments. Postman maintains we have left the Age of Typography (the written word) and entered the Age of Show Business. Even news casts are stripped of context when news items are offered in bite-sized chunks of entertainment which the viewer can easily dismiss as trivia.
Ideologically, America is a far cry from where we started two hundred fifty years ago. The ideas of limited government, states rights trumping the federal government and the concept of a free citizenry has been all but lost in the Age of Show Business. And, if schools graduate students that can‘t, or won’t, read, so what?
Yes, November is coming and there is a lot of entertainment between now and then. Whom will the electorate choose?