Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Aim a Little

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action. ~ Herbert Spencer

I've always felt that education should lead to something and that knowing where you want to go is essential to satisfying the question of how to get there. If you never move from where you are, you'll never arrive anywhere. The cellared knowledge does nothing to heal a child or build a bridge. The closed book neither thrills nor bores. How do we live, if not through and because of change?

So in all of learning I believe there must be the goal and the reality of both collective and individual movement, preferably forward, although one could argue that in some instances, a step or two back provides critical perspective; I won't disagree.

And in any case we must have a sense of direction, lest we blindly bat about in the same space endlessly moving but never traveling. What a tire that would be! We must aim for something, perhaps a series of things, and work all our lives to arrive. In fact, that is foundational to the American experience, remembered among the affected, and even moreso among the aspiring, as the great document's assured 'pursuit of happiness'. We are hunters, doggedly after what Socrates delivered to us as the great and unconditional goal of life.

So why aren't we moving? What terrible paralysis has plagued us?

Ah, Congress.

It seems too few of our representatives have learned that knowing how to maneuver through the labyrinth of rules and procedures of our democratic bodies to effect one's personal or a party's narrow agenda is not, in and of itself, an end. Rather, using that knowledge to effect some change, acting on the knowledge that a constituency has some need or weakness to fill it or cure it - that is the purpose of their position.

I fear we've collected the most educated among us in a pool from which they cannot escape and charged them with leading us out of the water. They bump foolishly against the heavy
glass of their confines, charging towards reflections of their own ignorance, attracted to their own trapped visages instead of seeking a way out. We cannot follow or we shall drown.

My greater fear, however, is not that they are unwittingly imprisoned, tragically lost but sincere in their desire to serve the public's charge. What blackens my thoughts is that those among us are not among us, but outside the glass, agitating the waters to make us feel that we are moving, when in fact we are the ones constrained.

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