Tuesday, September 28, 2004
The real reflection of any societies future is the state of education. The more freedom any society has, the greater the educational opportunity and potential.
BunkerMulligan's piece on education, posted a few days go, made some interesting points. He briefly touched on the dropout rate of college freshmen and the value of a community college education. In a society where education is there for the asking, it is hard to imagine giving up or squandering an education.
Aristotle said, "We can't expect people to be free to choose unless we create the conditions for them to be free."
If we take that at face value, how can we expect to negotiate with an adversary that will do anything to keep that from happening?
Further, in our own society, how is it we have a class of people, who in effect, share the same view as those we oppose, going as far as to wish for the renounciation of the very things that make us free and offer vociferous support of those who call for our destruction?
The 'conditions for freedom,' that Aristotle talks about, can be interpreted in many ways, it seems.
Arab world education has for decades, been at the bottom of the world educational barrel. At the same time, religious instruction was not widely available as it was viewed by the various Arab regimes as a potential souce of rebellion and potential insurrection.
After generations of neglect and the natural human need to feel in control of their own lives and wish to chart their own destiny, Arab regimes realized that they could co-opt Islam to their advantage and thus take the pressure off themselves to 'deliver the goods.' Higher education was not exempt. Colleges and universities have 'departments' of study that negate history and cultures, always 'proving' the superiority of Islam, regardless of action and deed.
Utilizing state approved clerics to adminster and guide educational agendas to fit their needs, the Arab regimes have successfully manipulated another generation into oblivion.
In the long repressed Arab Islamic world, religion supplanted the state and became the de facto educational provider.
Just as real education provides for unlimited opportunity and reward, religious instruction provides the opportunity for eternal reward and salvation. All that is required is permanent membership in the Fraternity of Hate. Feeding off each other and ideals reinforced by the state's claim of fulfilling it's Islamic obligation and destiny, the Arab finally has hope.
There is no chance of course, of religious instruction being relevant in actually providing for more earthly needs-- Islamist religious instruction deliberately shuns modernity and advancement, instead regaling students with ideals of regaining lost glory and superiority.
In the face of ever expanding Islamist educational culture, there is a brain drain to the West. The Arab world will not recover for a long time. Real critical thinking is not applauded in the Arab World.
It is interesting to note that non-Arab Iran faces a different internal conflict. The mullah's understood that in order to maintain their control, they had could not execute an about face on the forward looking ideas of the Shah and the educational achievements instituted during his reign. There was no question of turning the clock back, Revolutionary Guards notwithstanding. They had to exert their control by putting a religious 'spin' on Iranian society and culture.
In the Arab Middle East, religious education has provided the 'freedom' that state did not.
As a result, children are inculcated with the idea that God mandated hate will provide the 'wealth' that they have been deprived of-- wealth stolen by the infidels, with their concerted conspiracy to keep Muslims from their rightful destiny.
It is the 'mother's milk' of Arab discontent.
It is also the same 'mother's milk' that has fed a generation of westerners and has bred a self loathing culture of discontent and hatred of all things Western.
How it happened in hindsight, is easy to see.
Our culture of freedom-- expected and taken for granted-- became our loving God, the ever forgiving and all tolerant being. It's something I wrote about earlier.
I used to think of freedom as an art form, ever evolving and refining, expanding and subject to interpretation.
I was wrong, I believe.
I now see freedom as a science. Like art, science too, evolves and serves us in never ending ways. Unlike art, science discards what is no longer applicable and adapts to new realities, discoveries and ideals.
Art requires only a passive commitment. One sees or hears what one wants to see or hear. Science requires more active participation.
Science takes work and there are measurable levels of achievement.
Yes, there are fundamental truths and realities in life. Science respects those and always will. They are the building blocks.
Simply admiring freedom and expounding on it when the mood hits is not a commitment to freedom, it is an example of commenting on the art of freedom, not the science. That so many people are involved in the current political process is no measure of commitment to freedom. The climate of 'Anybody but Bush' (ABB) is an example of how freedom is held in such low esteem. There are no other ideas, no rational alternatives and no real attempt at addressing the issues of the day, the orchestrated deceits of Michael Moore notwithstanding.
In other words, current liberal political ideology is like a wearing a lab coat. Simply wearing one doesn't make you a doctor.
There has to be a real commitment to freedom and active participation beyond the rhetorical level, every few years. Issues need to be understood and discussed openly and freely. Truth has to be arrived at in a fair and empirical manner. Hearty debate and opposition is good-- but it has to be arrived at by thorough discussion and undertanding.
Snappy placards and slogans do not a political expert make.
We are in the situation we find ourselves in today, because we've allowed freedom to become an art form, where anything goes and everything is just a matter of expression. That people can have a variance of opinion is one thing. That they are considered credible is a sad commentary on the state of our educational system.
Culturally, there is opposition to making the study of freedom a science. That would require work, a willingness to be loyal to truth and a stubborn commitment to the principles that make democracy work.
The democracy 'artists' of our educational system aren't much different than the religious 'educators' of the Arab world.
Keep students from dealing with the real failings of their education and their educators. Then define an objective and say and do anything you have to, and blame others for an ideal not realized. Be oppressed and define the enemy-- and that is anyone with a different opinion.
Really, it's an art form.