Tag: divisiveness

education - brothers

Crime: Innate or a Failure of Our Education System?

Why does crime occur? Why are people driven to break the law? Why do entire segments of the human population feel the need to step on other humans in order to ‘get theirs’? Is the education system failing us?

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”

-Nelson Mandela

The only reasonable answer I can come up with is that people feel compelled to operate outside the boundaries of the law because they feel that the law has been made to create inequalities that don’t allow them a fair shot.

While it might be easy for the uber-privileged to eschew this argument as an uneducated class of people feeling sorry for themselves, crime is an alarming trend. And when a significant mass of the population feels this way, it seems unlikely that millions of people should be simply written off as “uneducated” or “delusional”.

In some cases, the people resorting to crime in an effort to “get ahead” might fall into the category of being uneducated, but, again, what is the reason for this, especially in a country so economically and technologically privileged as our own?

I find it hard to accept the argument that resources are not enough to provide quality education for every young person in this country. Our resources are plenty. We simply decide to use them for other purposes while our education continues to spin wildly down the toilet.

Many of our nation’s problems stem from a need for total education reform. Crime rates are no different. They seem to be directly related to economic and social status and the fact that vast percentages of our population feel as if they haven’t been given a fair chance.

America was founded on the simple principle that every man, and woman, has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But true liberty is not available on an equal basis in this country. Your right to life only goes so far as you’re willing to stay within the bounds of laws that sometimes feel unfair, unnecessary, and, often, downright discriminatory.

The pursuit of happiness is only possible if one is given the tools, the means, and the freedom to pursue whatever it is that makes the individual happy. I have a tough time believing that individuals forced to resort to crime do so because robbing, stealing, cheating, and killing makes them happy. They do so because they are driven by need, and in this country, that need is monetary.

The reality, for many people that choose to lead a life of crime, is that it pays better than your average 9-5 gig. It’s difficult to make ends meet, support a family, and achieve financial security when working within the boundaries we’ve been given. Crime pays. It can be lucrative. And until that is no longer the case, it will continue to be an outlet for the disrespected and underprivileged populations of the world.

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” -Ayn Rand

root cause - division - america

The Root Cause? An Imaginary Fence?

It’s an Election Year, and as much as one can try to stay away from the constant “Us vs. Them” headlines, it’s impossible not to consider the options, their potential impact on the future of our country, and the root cause of our issues. So how do I feel about the options before me? Well, they’re not great, to say the least. It’s a shame that the choice of the next leader of our country comes down to selecting the lesser of two evils. In a country with more than 318 million people, you’d think we could find at least one individual with the experience, morals, and intestinal fortitude for the job, and more importantly, someone that an overwhelming majority can agree is best for it. So, can we pinpoint the root cause of our division?

Alas, the system continues to succeed in fracturing our population. Leaders on both sides have us believe that our nation’s problems can be attributed to those “lunatics” on the other side of the aisle, and that it is their responsibility to fix them. Or scarier yet, that it is our responsibility to eliminate the source of the problems. As far as I can tell, we have a major attribution problem in this country. I hate to break it to anyone who is yet to realize it, but the problems are ALL OF OURS. And they will require cooperation from EVERYONE if we truly wish to fix them.

Maybe Mark Twain was right when he said, “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” Perhaps this sentiment hits home in light of recent events, when it seems as though the system is rigged against us. But while the purest form of democracy may not be intact here in the U.S., we still retain the right to express our opinions through multiple outlets. I can’t help but agree with another quote often attributed to Twain: “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” For the benefit of the reader, I’ll clarify that reason, it’s because they’re FULL OF SHIT!! But we must act to change them when the smell becomes unbearable. If we don’t, we have no room for complaint.

Anyhow, I have digressed. The main issue at hand, as far as I can see, is the divisiveness of politics. There can be no reasonable consensus as long as we continue to argue over the minutia. Petty issues distract us while large, systemic problems go unnoticed and unsolved. At the root of many of our country’s current dilemmas lies the inadequacy of our education system. And still, I have yet to hear any candidate utter (aside from Bernie in relation to the student loan debt crisis) a peep of acknowledgement that a problem even exists, not to mention exploring potential solutions to that problem.

The lack of compassion for fellow men and women. Limited understanding of global systems and the interconnected nature of human existence. The propensity to attribute issues to external sources before considering internal solutions. A set of priorities that values money over health, happiness, and diversity. The tendency to jump to conclusions and act to extremes before working towards a fuller understanding of the situation.

These are just a few symptoms of our education system’s failures. I, for one, feel as if I spent more time in grade school memorizing twisted truths than exploring our creativity and seeking useful knowledge. Some of us are lucky to get out with any shred of creativity and ability for critical thinking still intact. I am not the first to suggest this, and I will not be the last, not by a long shot.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” –Albert Einstein

“Our rapidly moving, information-based society badly needs people who know how to find facts rather than memorize them, and who know how to cope with change in creative ways. You don’t learn those things in school.” –Wendy Priesnitz

“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on – because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.” –Noam Chomsky

“Do not train children in learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” –Plato

“There is no neutral education. Education is either for domestication or for freedom.” –Joao Coutinho

“We destroy the disinterested (I do not mean uninterested) love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards – gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards…in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else…We kill, not only their curiosity, but their feeling that it is a good and admirable thing to be curious, so that by the age of ten most of them will not ask questions, and will show a good deal of scorn for the few who do.” –John Holt

The list goes on and on. But we all have places to be and people to see. The likelihood that you’ve made it this far, in today’s age of the TL;DR epidemic, already seems quite low. But if you have, thank you! You’ve beaten the odds, and I’m sorry that I don’t have a more elegant solution to present in this moment. In truth, I have ideas for solution, but I believe the first step to be a more widespread acknowledgement that the issue exists. Once we admit to the problem, then we can come together to explore healthy solutions, not only for the present, but also for our common future.