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|"We are in a race between education and disaster." — H.G. Wells|
-- The challenge faced by teachers
"Amusing ourselves to death"
"George Orwell, in his classic 1984, feared those who would ban books. Aldous Huxley, in his classic Brave New World, feared there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.
"Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
"As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny 'failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.' In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us...
"Today our national character and aspiration, once symbolized by the political radicalism of Boston, the melting-pot of New York, and the industrial dynamism of Chicago, are symbolized by Las Vegas, Nevada, a city dedicated to entertainment and proclaiming the spirit of a culture in which all public discourse increasingly takes the form of entertainment. Discourse in America, once generally coherent, serious, and rational, has now, under the governance of television, become dangerous nonsense, shriveled and absurd.
"Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education, and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death."
The antidote: writing skills
"Writing makes it possible and convenient to subject thought to a continuous and concentrated scrutiny. Writing freezes speech and in so doing gives birth to the grammarian, the logician, the rhetorician, the historian, the scientist — all those who must hold language before them so that they can see what it means, where it errs, and where it is leading." — Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
|America at the Crossroads . . .|
1. Our national debt, $19.4 trillion and growing, now exceeds our annual $18.4 trillion gross domestic product (http://www.usdebtclock.org). When interest rates rise to normal levels from their current record lows, the gap will rapidly widen even further.
2. Our unfunded liabilities exceed $103 trillion, an unsustainable level not unlike that which has toppled other nations.
3. Ruinous International trade deals have created unsustainable trade imbalances and have drained well-paying manufacturing jobs from our nation, devastating many of our cities.
4. More than 90 million Americans are out of work and millions more are underemployed.
5. Porous borders have allowed an invasion of aliens to enter our country illegally, taking American workers’ jobs, keeping wages low, and draining community resources.
6. Porous borders also have allowed a flood of illegal drugs, criminals, and terrorists to flow into our country, creating havoc in our cities.
7. Health care costs are out of control and getting worse under flawed provisions of the ironically misnamed Affordable Health Care Act.
8. Common Core has replaced local control of education with federal control, including control of curriculum and testing inimical to the interests of students, teachers, and parents. a bureaucratic system replete with political indoctrination components, and spawning increasing numbers of citizens unable to concentrate for a sustained period on a complex subject and come to rational, logical conclusions.
9. Our national defense is challenged and mocked by nations around the world.
10. Several Supreme Court vacancies are pending, with ramifications for the future of our nation’s Constitutional government.
|Teachers and parents:|
Shootings and other violence
in our communities are created by
violent TV programming and movies."The data is irrefutable."
Virtually all of the talk about violence in our communities ignores the real culprits responsible for the violence: the producers of violent TV programs, movies, and video games that promote and glamorize murder and mayhem. They saturate viewers, particularly the young, with around the clock violence, then shed crocodile tears over the savage brutality their productions perpetrate in our communities. Meanwhile glib politicians sanctimoniously rail against guns and wring their hands over shootings in reports aired by news media owned by the same corporations that make money promoting violence -- and then make more money decrying it. Their politician-accomplices make no reference to the culture of death created by corporate media and contributing to the monstrously evil acts now too common in our communities. Perhaps these observations by former Lieutenant Colonel and West Point Psychology Professor David Grossman can shed light on what is happening to us -- and motivate us to do something about it:
"Data linking violence in the media to violence in society is superior to that linking cancer and tobacco. The American Psychological Association (APA), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Surgeon General, and the Attorney General have all made definitive statements about this. When I presented a paper to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) annual convention in May, 2000, the statement was made even then that: 'The data is irrefutable. We have reached the point where we need to treat those who try to deny it as we would treat Holocaust deniers.'
"Classical conditioning is like Pavlov's dog in Psych 101. Remember the ringing bell, the food, and the dog could not hear the bell without salivating? In World War II, the Japanese would make some of their young, unbloodied soldiers bayonet innocent prisoners to death. Their friends would cheer them on. Afterwards, all these soldiers were treated to the best meal they've had in months, sake, and to so-called 'comfort girls.' The result? They learned to associate violence with pleasure. The media is doing it to our children. Kids watch vivid images of human death and suffering and they learn to associate it with: laughter, cheers, popcorn, soda, and their girlfriend's perfume.
"Today the media are providing our children with role models, not only in the lawless sociopaths in movies and in TV shows, but in the transformation of these schoolyard killers into media celebrities. Thus we get the effect of copycat, cluster murders that work their way across America like a virus spread by the six o'clock local news. No matter what someone has done, if you put their picture on TV, you have made them a celebrity and someone, somewhere, may emulate them. This effect is magnified when the role model is a teenager, and the effect on other teens can be profound.
"The American people need to be informed. Every parent must be warned of the impact of violent visual media on children, as we would warn them of some rampant carcinogen. Violence is not a game, it is not fun, it is not something that we let children do for entertainment. Violence kills. The media are selling violence, and we do not have to buy it. An educated and informed society can and must find its way home from the dark and lonely place to which it has traveled."
Can anything be done about the sociopathic corporate media creators of violence? Yes. Stay tuned to CityDesk.us for more -- and for what you can do about it. -- John Gile
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