Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Why? Whatever happened to Utopia?

 


Early on in your chronicler's quest for knowledge an interesting work was perused, the title of which was: The Republic.

It's author was a Greek philosopher named Plato, who, in a sense invented education, and who really seemed to have a handle on things worth knowing.

He envisioned Utopia, a civilization run by philosopher kings, whose sole purpose was to see that the people were afforded an education, and that they were taught by knowledgeable educators whose sole purpose in life was to insure that their charges were taught the things they needed to know in order to become valuable and useful citizens. Among his early proteges was Aristotle; and it all seemed to be going well from there.

In his Republic, those in charge of things, the philosopher kings, had one responsibility: sharing their knowledge with their charges, and insuring that the end product would be a civilization of educated individuals whose primary consideration was that this knowledge would be enhanced and passed on to others.

These revelations were found to be quite inspiring: that man should be infused with a thirst for knowledge, and that he would pass this knowledge on to others; along with it a sense of values.

But, after reading the mighty tome was finished, and a musing over its content began, the first question that presented itself was: If this is certainly the right way for a society to conduct itself, why isn't it? And then the answer came crashing down: No wonder his book was often referred to as Utopia, the word translates as “No place.” And, unfortunately, No place like Plato's Utopia exists; especially on these shores.

The theory behind the book was profound: Competent and knowledgeable philosopher kings, would share with society their knowledge and wisdom, in order that society might put this knowledge to work, and that society would, in turn, enhance it and pass it along to generations to come.

But, when one includes the human factor, Utopia falls apart.

Look at our society today. Is there anything anywhere that even closely resembles Utopia? Are there philosopher kings about who might teach generations of potential philosopher kings what they have learned, and enhanced upon?

No! Not even close. In fact, we're sinking into a quagmire of ignorance that would reduce Plato and his disciples to tears.

And why, one may ask, are we allowing this to happen to us, and to those younger generations who look to us for guidance?

Mainly, it's because we view life from a What's in it for me” perspective. Or, worse yet, from no perspective at all.

And why is this so? One may ask.

For one thing, our society, and the education program within it, is a prime example.

For the most part, both have a “what's in it for me?” outlook on life. Here we also have “The blind leading the blind,” a concept that goes back to 27 BC, but is at its pinnacle today.

Look at our schools, as an example. Within our educational institutions the major concern is not one of teaching young people, of passing along to generations to come information that may help them to become greater and more productive heirs to the society they are entering into.

Rather, their major concerns are: Will I get tenure? Why am I not receiving a higher salary? Why must I do this, or that. And, most importantly: What's in it for me?

Is it any wonder, then, that the primary question posed by students, as their teachers introduce them to new knowledge, is: “Will this be on the test?” And, “What's in it for me?”

What the students don't understand, because they are never taught it, is that the knowledge they needed was not on the test because the teacher didn't have the time to introduce this knowledge into his or her classroom lectures. They had other things to do beside explain the important factor: Why? It's because teachers are required to insure that an attractive bulletin board is conspicuously

displayed, that the teachers desk looks neat, that the blackboards present a pleasant appearance, and a host of other non-educational factors—most of which have little to do with knowledge, or the gaining thereof.

Two questions that are seldom asked, and are seldom answered any more are: Why aren't teachers teaching? And why aren't learners learning?

And this is why we have no Utopia today.

Pick a word

Adjectives get a good play in our daily lives. Far too many times they're used incorrectly, and in some cases, not frequently enough.

Take, for example, the current Democratic candidate for the presidency, Her PR flaks employ as many attractive adjectives as they can, most of which are from the right side of the ledger.

But there are a good many others that more accurately and precisely describe the woman, starting off alphabetically with the three adjectives that begin with the letter a.

These being: aggressive, aloof, and arrogant. No three words in our lexicon do a better job of describing the candidate than these.

Then, Belligerent and big-headed follow alphabetically. The letter C provide three opportunities: cruel, and cunning, cynical, followed in the D’s with deceitful, dishonest, and domineering.

The F’s didn't provide anything useful, but with the letter g, we have: greedy. This one probably should have been capitalized also.

Harsh was the only adjective available in this alphabetical category; but next in line we have intolerant and irresponsible.

Jealous and lazy could be of service, as could the words Machiavellian and just plain mean. In the n column we could make use of narrow minded, and nasty, and in the O’s obsessive and obstinate.

Moving along to the next letter in the alphabet pompous jumps right off the page at us, and both quarrelsome and quick-tempered fit nicely.

In the s' we're overwhelmed with: secretive, selfish, self-centered, sneaky, and stubborn. And the T’s give us tactless and thoughtless.

And rounding out the alphabetical listing we have: untrustworthy and vain. Vengeful and vulgar might easily sneak onto the list, but this seems sufficient for one person. The letters x and z didn't make the grade; but if one took the time, they would also produce worthwhile adjectives.

How much more of all this the American people can take will likely be decided in the upcoming general election.

Cross your fingers.

Clinton Legacy

What is there about the White House that makes the Clinton family feel obliged to heap disgrace upon it?

Bill, through his peccadillo with Monica; and now Hillary and her e-mail hanky-panky—even before she makes her way into the presidency, have certainly cast a shadow over this once revered and respected structure.

It was generally the case throughout our history, that the President of the United States had the decency to wait until he was inaugurated before tarnishing the crown. With the Clinton's, they bring it with them.

Over the years the United States has suffered some embarrassment through the antics of its president, but the shadow that the Clinton family has cast over this nation is monumental.

And this doesn't touch on the money scandals that are waiting to be revealed.

The Clinton saga makes Dickens' Tale of Two Cities pale in comparison

One must wonder what's in store for Chelsea?

 

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