“When In Trouble, When In Doubt, Run In Circles, Scream And Shout” Anonymous
The last two and a half years have all but crushed our culture. Individual health and lifeforce have been compromised for far too many; millions of people have lost their jobs; small businesses have been eviscerated; and most devastating of all, a generation of children have been deprived of the necessary skills to be viable in a world of constant change and challenge. As part of an occupational habit, I have given much thought to what we can learn from these terrible times, in hopes of never having to go through this again. (I have no doubt and great certainty, that given our imagination, we will create different forms of misery and troubles, just not the same.)
I have begun to see three lessons to be learned from what we have been through. The first has to do with our collective adoration of “experts.” What we are beginning to see is the difference between helpful, and damaging, “experts.” It’s becoming increasingly clear that no amount of education and credentials, can restrain some people from giving leaders and decision-makers, stupid advice, completely devoid of common sense. And even worse, advice that harms people, in the name of helping and protecting them. This situation has been exacerbated by our romance with self-proclaimed “intellectuals,” who change the meaning of key terms, to serve their short-term aspirations. Foremost among these, is the term – Science. The way it has been bandied about, one would think that it has biblical roots. I have no doubt that the vast majority of people who observe the heated, polarized debate over “following the science” have no idea that the role of Science is to challenge and disprove prevailing knowledge, in the service of stimulating dialogue and perfecting alternative theories. It is not, to prove someone, or something right.
The second lesson involves understanding the difference between idealists and ideologues. Idealists have a vision about what constitutes the “good life,” and strive to work toward it; knowing that the journey will be fraught with obstacles that will have to be conquered or adapted to. Ultimately, Idealists are pragmatists. They have a high degree of trust in people and fervently believe in people’s resiliency. But, perhaps their most notable characteristic, is their understanding that continued growth and fulfillment is dependent upon their willingness to take risks. Ideologues have a theory about the perfection of the species. They are low trust, risk averse, and obsessed with control. The ubiquitous nature of Covid, posed an enormous challenge to Ideologues, and they responded with ferocity and an unquestioning battle plan. They had a theory about defeating Covid, and they weren’t going to alter or change it, no matter the cost. Belief in The Theory is the penultimate goal of Ideologues. Years ago, in my academic incarnation, I witnessed a debate between an Idealist and an Ideologue. At one point, in the exchange, the Ideologue, out of sheer frustration said to the Idealist: “I can see how your solution works in practice; but does it work in theory?”
Lastly, Covid brought about, accidentally, a transparency in our educational system, that we have not experienced before. The battle to return children to the classroom (interestingly, resisted by the teacher’s union), exposed two facets of the system, that the vast majority of parents were wholly unaware of. The first, was the bizarre and completely inappropriate content of the curriculum (gender fluidity, the gamut of adult sexual practices, etc.), and secondly, the attempted indoctrination of the children, to a values platform, that most parents found anywhere from offensive to outrageous. This, in turn, raised, two issues that heretofore had received less than great public scrutiny – Who are the schools accountable to? And, Whose values should undergird the curriculum as a whole? On a very practical plane, this questioned the validity of the concept of tenure, and of even greater import, gave the concept of school choice, a whole new face. Who would of thought, that Covid would bolster the case for school choice?
One last point. Perhaps the most disturbing ramification of dealing with Covid, was the masking of children and the negative valence attached to touching. Masking is nothing less then child abuse, and teaching children to not touch other people, is tantamount to legitimizing schizophrenagenic (i.e. crazy-making) behavior. (For more information, read my blog –“Sacrificial Children: The Insanity of Touchlessness.”) Children develop their humanness and their ability to connect with others, through being touched and through assuring facial expressions. (Watch adults when they are holding or playing with children – They’re always smiling.) I hope that this experiment with societal insanity is a cautionary tale, and that we keep learning from our mistakes.