Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trust: Disease or Drug? The American Tragedy

In an election year we find many parallels between how Americans deal with “the schools” and how they deal with their “government.” Americans suffer from a persistent ailment: Untargeted Suspicion. This free-ranging suspicion then gives rise to free-ranging Doubt, an almost universal symptom. They then try to “cure” the Doubt with overdoses of Faith, either Faith in a System; or, Faith in a Person, or ultimately, Faith in Themselves, individually. This “Faith” is generally as well-founded as the “Doubt” that gave rise to it. And by focusing treatment on the symptoms, the basic causes remain untouched.

You can’t really blame most of us for our habits of suspicion. We grow up in a culture where we learn early in life that the following are very practical advice:
a. caveat emptor, i.e. Let the buyer beware!
b. Don’t give a sucker an even break!
c. Life is Struggle.
d. Charity begins at home.
e. Everybody’s in it for himself.
The daily experiences of many, if not most, adults bear these “wisdoms” out, while opposite opinions, such as “Love Thy Neighbor,” or “Blessed are the peacemakers” are encountered only in special, sheltered situations, for example, ones in which we told to look to a future after-earthy life for their realization.

It is hard to evaluate the information that confronts us on a daily basis. It takes some education to do it consistently well. But if we reject the value of what we learn in schools, or what we get from other information sources, for example, private as well as governmental media, how can we address our doubts, or allay our suspicions?

Most people I have ever met do it this way: they rely on those they trust; and ultimately check it out against their own experience. But those whom we trust can disappoint us; and our own experience is normally very narrow. So it comes down to this: we go towards (anticipated) Pleasure and run from (anticipated) Pain and rely for guidance on what “insights” pop into our heads: ultimate, hard-kernel Individualists, like every creature on Earth, down to the very viruses.

To examine these issues further, see Personal Liberation Through Education: do public school – religious school differences matter?

--- EGR