(Use back button to return to previous page.)(The writing below was my first attempt at just sitting down and writing whatever comes out. It appears a bit hostile in places. It also touches on some interesting, and volatile, social issues of the day. "Life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think." - Horace Walpole. Those feelers who cannot think will hate me for what is written. Intelligent people will have lots of good ideas for improving the writing process I go through and for improving the presentation of what is raised below. Suggestions for improvement or refinement are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nasty Commentary is also welcome at email@example.com)
What Society Needs Today
How to solve all of our country's problems.
"What we need is 100 million people who can read an article and figure out how to vote."
- Dr. Mae Jemison, from a talk in Denver.
That is all we need. People who can actually figure out how to vote. To do that two things are required, how to read and how to think. Thinking can be defined in many ways, but for now I will call it the ability to reason beyond your first reaction. You need to be curious once something enters your head. You need to wonder about it. You need to read about it. You need to ultimately strive to understand it. We have a society that can feel about social issues, but not one that can think about social issues. We experience something that makes us feel bad, we find something else that makes us feel good, we conclude that is a safe place to stop. Actually conclude is too much of a word. It implies a thinking process. We actually just stop at whatever makes us feel good. Wal-Mart is coming to Boulder? I don't like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is bad for Boulder. Wal-Mart can't come to Boulder. No real thought is given to whether this is a good or a bad idea. (Probably a bad example, because now the Wal-Mart haters feel I am a bad writer and will not listen any further. (Listen to printed words? Think about it.))
So how do we get those 100 million people who can think? Step one: Get every child able to read. Don't worry about world politics. Don't worry about the environment. Don't worry about Crossroads Mall. Don't worry about the Middle East. Get every child able to read.
Step Two: Bring back science education. Teach people to think. Teach people to explore. Teach people how to experiment in sound ways. Teach people how to develop a hypothesis and how to go about proving or disproving it to themselves. Does a counter example prove your point, disprove your point, or force you to reexamine your point?
Get these two steps in place and in twenty years all your problems will have easy solutions. How? Well in twenty years your voting public will consist of 100 million people who can read an article and figure out which way to vote. All of the people in school will have learned to become better thinkers. All of their parents will also have become better thinkers as a result of interacting with their children. What will happen twenty years from today?
The city council will still be debating what to do with Crossroads Mall. (Either that or the debacle that is built now will have fallen apart) The new citizenry will quickly conclude that the City Council is staffed with incompetent boobs and vote everybody out in the next election. The only people elected will actually have common sense and will quickly design a proper mall that meets the real needs of the community. (Although a 20 year wait for a movie theater with stadium seats and an art picture screen or two is an awful long time.)
In twenty years we will probably be cycling back towards global cooling and the next ice age. (Yeah, 1975. Look it up.) But instead of driving our SUB's to a protest rally, (Sport Utility Busses. The next logical size step.) we will decide to stop protesting and quietly do what is needed at home to fight our eco issues. We will start to ride the bus more. Maybe try a little harder to recycle. Decide individually whether we want to spend more money for recycle products. Read more with our children. Consume less. Turn off the TV. Walk more instead of driving places.
The world headline will feature the State of Palestine sponsoring Suicide Bus Tours of Israel. We will all realize that land still hasn't brought peace. We let Israel defend itself. When we see nothing but pictures of Palestinians with rocks in the news we will turn off the TV to avoid biased journalism. We will send all our best wishes of courage that the Palestinians can have their own revolution, like we did 244 years earlier. Then they can install leaders that will work for peace and not try to inspire their citizens to go around attacking people who are going to kick their butt!
In twenty years the Wal-Mart hating rich people will actually figure out that Wal-Mart got big because they met the needs of poor people and normal people all over the country. Then will then discover that those same people live in Boulder and will allow a Wal-Mart to be built here, albeit one with a parking lot underground and a nice tree-rich, cozy, front walk.
In twenty years world leader types will get together and come up with some political nonsense that looks like the Kyoto Protocol. We will give some thought to reading it ourselves. Then we will hear that our, by then, learned Senators voted 95-0 against it. we will realize that it was all nonsense, no matter how good its original intentions were, and not give it another thought. Nobody will get their panties in a bunch and life will proceed with far fewer squawking interruptions than we have today.
Of course all of this assumes that reading and science make it back into schools today. instead of that green, self-esteem-building, multicultural, foofy, nonsense that is taking over our schools now.