In my musings this weekend, going about my daily business, I have come to this conclusion:
The two main problems in the world today are: 1. Fixation on possession, and 2. Negative labeling of critical/divergent thinking.
Problem #1: Fixation on Possession.
Why do we have so many people dying of starvation or living below the standard of living, while others have the freedom to go shopping and to the movies every weekend? And still others have expensive cars, summer houses, yachts, and personal planes? Because people believe they are entitled, and they don’t like to share.
What drives me craziest about this mentality is when it comes to class differences. I’ve come to realize that I differ from people politically because I do not believe anyone is entitled to more than anyone else. I still envision an ideal society in which there is plenty to go around, and everyone shares in the wealth. If that were to mean that I would have to give up some of my trips, gadgets, outings, etc, so that there would not be a single person starving, I could understand and live with that. (But then again, I’m a fairly frugal person to begin with.) However, society seems to have the opposite philosophy. If you are poor, it’s because you don’t work hard enough. If you are rich, you earned it, and it’s not fair to take away the fruits of your labor. Now, as a teacher, I’ve come to know some parents who are at that bottom of the social class totem pole, and they are certainly NOT lazy. In fact, I would say they work HARDER than the average person, sometimes paying for it physically in their packing job, factory jobs, cleaning work, and the like. Besides the difficulty of these jobs, some adults work more than one job to make ends meet, having limited time off and very little daily free time. And they are fortunate compared to others!
Another area of possession that I’m particularly passionate about is land possession. Why does land need to be possessed? The Native Americans were comfortable sharing with us (until we began pushing them aside). If land can really be “owned”, then we are skilled thieves. We, the United States in particular, have stolen land from many people. We’ve stolen it from the Native Americans, first and foremost, which was one of the biggest crimes of our history . We’ve also stolen from Mexico in the Mexican-American War, and from various European countries. And that’s just our past. Every year our corporations are stealing resources from around the world, and then sometimes trying to sell them back to its own people!
I am amazed when people get upset about those “illegals” who are “taking over our country.” Who are many of these “illegals” they are referring to? Mexicans. Many of native descent. So, yes, think about this. They were here before we were. Switch perspective, and now we’re the illegal ones.
Problem #2: Negative Labeling of Critical/Divergent Thinking.
Think about this for a moment: What do you call an idea that challenges a conclusion established by societal authority? A conspiracy theory. What kind of connotation does that term have? What are people called when they challenge the established government? Socialists. Anarchists. Communists. What connotation do those words have?
We live in a society that claims to support and encourage critical thinking skills. It’s even thrown in our Language Arts objectives. But that’s not what society really wants. (I know, I know. This is a “conspiracy theory”, right?) What society really wants is a people that will fall in line. Lemmings that will follow the masses. That’s why our media have all begun to merge into clones. And that’s why our government wants you to pick a side, shut up, and stay behind the line! Don’t forget our rigid two-party system and rigged candidates. (If you’re a supporter of Ralph Nader or Ron Paul you know what I mean. If you don’t, check it out, anyway.) And if we want to get involved in another country, it’s always their fault, never ours. So, think of it this way, if you were a parent, and you kept getting phone calls about how your child was involved in yet another fight, what would you think? (Unless, I suppose, you’re one of those parents who thinks “Not my child.”)
So, yes, I believe the poor will always be with us – if we are not willing to share. And yes, we will continue to have a population who cannot think critically, as long as we tell them what to think. Our perfect world is out there, as long as we learn to look at what we have and what we think in a whole different way.