“Generation Z” that’s what they are calling kids that are under 18 right now. My kids. Hmm…at first I was a bit taken aback by the idea of a “Generation Z”. What does that mean? It sounds so final. What could possibly come after Z? But then I had a spark of hope. Is this the last generation to live separately from the other generations? Will we begin to go back to a time when children were raised by their parents along with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles in the home instead of an institution? Could this be the generation that changes how we live in the United States? It’s not the end of the world when things change, you know. We didn’t use to have this huge wall between generations of people. We didn’t use to live in a world where children lived separately from adults most of their lives and the elderly lived separately from the working adults. We used to all be interdependent with each other, helping and supporting each other as cohesive families. I think life has gotten much darker and scarier since we started this separation. Maybe this “Generation Z” will be the one the ends that. I think they may be the generation that brings us back together and forward into a much brighter and loving world.
I was talking to my son today on the way to a doctor’s appointment and I thought of something interesting. I’ve been reading “The Closing of the American Mind” and much of it is beyond my understanding, really. It makes me a bit sad when I try so hard to grasp something and can’t quite get it. I read it. I think I understand. But when I try to explain it or write it down it becomes all jumbled and confused, so I know I don’t really understand it. I’ll keep reading, though. I think he’s talking about other books and philosophers that I haven’t fully studied, so I’m a bit lost but at least my reading list is growing!
I was getting the idea yesterday that there really isn’t anything we can do about what is going on around the world, our own government, or economics. No matter what we do, life still goes on as it will. It sounds pretty pessimistic, but it’s not really. It’s kind of like a time travel story. You know all those movies with time travel it always comes up that they will try to go back and stop Hitler but they can’t. No matter what, it still happens. History is fixed. That’s what I see the wider world as. I can’t stand in the way of the train, but I can warn some people off the tracks and help those that get hurt. I can’t stop an evil government from doing bad things, but I can make my home a safe and happy place. I can help those around me feel loved and appreciated. I can risk my life to save others.
That led us to another discussion. Jesus and violence. How would Jesus react to a threat to himself or others? Would he use violence to stop someone? No. He didn’t kill someone to save you. He died for you. He stood between us and the abyss. He lost his life to show us the way to resurrection. I would hope that’s what I would do. Back to Hitler. When the SS came to my door looking for Jews, would I help? No. Would I shoot them and hide their bodies? No. When a Jew came to my door looking for shelter would I risk my life and my family’s to hopefully save him? Yes. I hope I would be brave enough to die to save another life. What’s the point of living in this world if you lose your soul?
We talked to some very nice people yesterday at the race track. It was a grandfather supporting his grandson’s racing. He was such a nice man and his grandson sure was fast and exciting to watch! We talked about how far we came to practice and race, what kind of training we do, diet, bikes, etc. It’s what you talk about while waiting for your race to come up. We learned a lot about each other and will probably see each other again at another track. Our kids aren’t in the same race class but they may be in the future! They inspired us and the boys to put more effort into practices. As a result, we’ve worked out a new training schedule and workout routine.
As we talked, I could tell we were coming from two different worlds. At the track, he had a really nice work van, stocked with tools and parts, as well as two very new and well-built race bikes. He talked about the 42′ RV Toy Hauler they were living in and their houses in two different states. We talked about getting to a big race in the southeast and I asked about how much it cost them to get there. It was a great eye opener. I would assume the boys would be discouraged. We can’t spend that kind of money! But they weren’t. They don’t believe you NEED to spend that much, it’s just that he can and is comfortable doing it. We can get there. We just need to be creative.
This morning I was thinking about that guy and all his stuff. It made me think about all the people I hear talking about rich people and their greed, all that money they have, buying whatever they want and here we are with one house, an old RV, and two very old bikes. But that isn’t what I felt at all. I am thankful that guy spends that money at the race track and buying new bikes. When he spends his money on four days a week practicing, the park is able to open that one day that we can afford to go. When he buys a brand new bike from the manufacturer, older bikes become available for us to buy. We can still put the same time and effort into racing and we benefit from what he is doing.
Think about the idea that rich people are greedy misers with all their money. Who is wrong here? The man with the money, spending it on what he wants? Or the one without it, wanting to take it away and spend it himself?
I keep hearing about knowing the difference between a “fake” news source and a “real” one. At first it sounded like common sense but then I saw some of the “fake” news sources listed in some Facebook posts, “The Onion” and “Click Hole”. Really? Do we really need to be protected from online satire? Maybe we should stop letting people see movies or read fiction literature? I mean, people may not know the difference, believe and act on the idea of Abraham Lincoln was a vampire slayer. And then I wonder, should we really be voting as a nation if we cannot tell the difference between satire and journalism?
We watched “To Kill a Mockingbird” the other night. It’s one of my most favorite movies, mostly because of Scout. That girl is an amazing child actress! But there was one scene that really stood out to me this time. Scout and Jem are led by Dill to go to the courthouse and find out what’s going on with the trial of Tom Robinson. They protest many times that their father would not like it. They seem to understand that their father is trying to protect them from something and respect that, or that children in a courthouse, especially during a trail, would be somehow inappropriate. But they follow Dill anyway, protesting all the way. In the end, their father finds them there and questions what they think they are doing. I expected Jem’s response, as a child, would be that they were only following their friend and that they were there under duress but it was not. Jem clearly said that they were there to see what was happening. There was no blame on anyone but themselves. When told to go home immediately, they did and in shame that they had disappointed their father, although they did feel justified in wanting to know what was going on. I can’t imagine a movie scene today that would portray the exchange that way. At the least, there would be blame being passed from one child to another and most likely the adult would be made to look like a tyrant.
When I was in college at the University of LaVerne, we did “The Threepenny Opera”. I remember building the set and painting it. I was very proud of that set. There were some catchy tunes in the show as well, that I still hear once in a while and smile at the memory of the production. But I don’t remember learning anything about the play, its authors, or its history. I remember learning about production work; designing, painting, lighting. I remember hearing the performance classes in the hall as I painted and set light angles. But I don’t remember really reading the play and understanding where it came from and what it was meant to portray. It came up in a book I’m reading today and it sounds so fascinating. I’m a tad disappointed at my short college experience once again.
I wasn’t planning on going to college but during my senior year of high school, our theater department participated in a university contest of sorts. Everyone brought their best work and entered it in several different divisions. This was the first one I’d been to that had a division for “design” which was what I was primarily interested in. I won first place that weekend and fell in love with the campus and the theater department there. The next year I was enrolled and looking forward to “real” education far beyond the boring and repetitive stuff we were learning (again) in public high school.
One year into university life and I was bitterly disappointed. The same old “general education” classes, taught the same way. The only good part was the freedom I had in the larger theater realm. I went for one more semester and dropped out when I got a part-time job at Knott’s in their Entertainment Department. That proved to be a great move on my part, contrary to the naysayers around me.
What I did miss was the chance at a “liberal education”. I wanted to read philosophy, learn more history, biography, and art. I wanted to read the classics and discuss them with people that were yearning to learn more about the world as well. All I got was training. Theater was a great creative outlet and we did have some awesome discussions in my theater history class, but other than that I was stuck in math, grammar, and basic history filled with dates of wars and political wins and losses. I was bored, so I left.
Here I am twenty-five years later just scratching the surface of classic literature and philosophy with no one to sit and talk to about it. I think that’s the one thing I’d love to snap my fingers and have in my life; a community of open-minded learners to sit and discuss books and ideas with over coffee and pie.
From “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom
“In family questions, inasmuch as men were understood to be so strongly motivated by property, an older wisdom tried to attach concern for the family to that motive: the man was allowed and encouraged to regard his family as his property, so he would care for the former as he would instinctively care for the latter. This was effective, although it obviously had disadvantages from the point of view of justice. When wives and children come to the husband and father and say, “We are not your property; we are ends in ourselves and demand to be treated as such,” the anonymous observer cannot help being impressed. But the difficulty comes when wives and children further demand that the man continue to care for them as before, just when they are giving an example of caring for themselves. They object to the father’s flawed motive and ask that it be miraculously replaced by a pure one, of which they wish to make use for their own ends. The father will almost inevitably constrict his quest for property, cease being a father and become a mere man again, rather than turning into a providential God, as others ask him to be.”
He’s also not saying we should go back to the idea of women and children as property, but he has a point. They system worked in its way. It satisfied one natural need and we can’t just discard it like rubbish and expect to have the same outcomes of secure families. I guess what people think is that secure family attachments aren’t necessary. Mother’s aren’t exactly necessary to children to grow up in the world and become functioning citizens. Father’s aren’t necessary. It all seems so bizarre to me really because I’m a Mother and Wife. I don’t feel owned by my husband as property. I feel protected and respected for my role in our family. I don’t think my husband feels used as a provider of income. I feel like we work as a team. Hmm…Something is wrong in this world, though. Families aren’t the strength they used to be. We keep the older generation out of the current and the younger generation away from the home. Husbands and wives act as independent machines. It all seems to be going nowhere and no one is happy anymore.
This chapter has been very good to read. There is a lot about the equality of men and women, how things have changed (up until the late 80’s when this was written), and the political/social forces behind the change. Reading it I wonder if things are different now in the colleges and universities. Are entering students worse or better off? From what I see around me, I think it’s worse or at least things have run the natural course they were taking 30 years ago.
What will happen to humanity if we keep insisting that biology doesn’t exist and that we must all be independent citizens of a state instead of interdependent members of a family? It brings to mind the other book I’m reading at the moment, “Kallocain” by Karin Boye. The family situation in that dystopian novel is frightening.
“The impartiality which, in contemplation, is the unalloyed desire for truth, is the very same quality of mind which, in action, is justice, and in emotion is that universal love which can be given to all, and not only to those who are judged useful or admirable. Thus contemplation enlarges not only the objects of our thoughts, but also the objects of our actions and our affections: it makes us citizens of the universe, not only of one walled city at war with all the rest. In this citizenship of the universe consists man’s true freedom, and his liberation from the thraldom of narrow hopes and fears.” – Bertrand Russell “The Value of Philosophy”
Maybe our schools and families should stop the focus on S.T.E.M. (science and math) before philosophy and art. Maybe our world would be a better place if we focused on becoming better people instead of smarter people. And by this, I don’t mean children need to be forced to learn. I mean that the adults in this world should be encouraged to change their focus and bring the love of learning back into their lives as an example as they live alongside their children.
Let’s say this. I see a need in my neighborhood and I decide to invest some of my money and rally people together to voluntarily help provide that need. It’s going well. We tweak it here and there and end up having a fairly successful thing going. In comes a mean man with a lot of money. He says, “I’ll give you a bunch of money to keep providing your thing.” It’ll be great because with his money involved, you won’t need to charge as much for the service and more of the poorer members of the neighborhood can use it. But, you know that guy and he’s a pretty mean dude. He may ask you to do something with your thing you’re not happy about and then threaten to take his money elsewhere if you don’t let him. So you decide to decline the money and be independent of this guy and his requests. How is that any different when the government is the one with the money?
My son says this is too cryptic. I’m talking about government-funded charter schools that offer money to vendors to supply services that private homeschoolers have been able to provide for themselves until now.
I started reading “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom this morning. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years along with several others and I’ve finally had the self-control to stop buying new books that draw my eye and read the ones I’ve already got on my “to -read” shelf! As I started to read it I wondered if I really should right now. Will it only depress me? Or will I be inspired to continue my own education further and encourage my sons to do so as well by my example? I’m going to go with inspired for now and see what happens!
The book was written in 1987 and I wondered two things as I read the preface. First of all, I wonder if any of our politicians today have a real “liberal education”. It seems to me that college no longer has the goal of making better people and has become a job training facility. We have children raised in institutions from near birth, completely cut off from the real world, that are now continuing on into college that they believe should be paid for by the government to get good jobs. Few, if any, even ask the question “What is man?” in any serious way. It’s so sad to me because we live in a time when free access to literature and classical writing, along with easy access to conversations with others about those topics is at its height. We don’t really need to spend a ton of money to become liberally educated but yet no one really wants it. Instead, they want free job training, which they could have gotten for free by just picking a career and interning while they learn it.
It all seems so backward. Will this book help me to learn how it got that way? Or whether or not we can change it?