I'm in favor of "right thinking." I'm also very relativistic as to the specific thoughts that are "right" in particular times, places and situations. For some people, "if you can dream it, you can do it" is the right thought. Sometimes the right thought is "Don't Stop Believing," which is the title of an excellent pop song by the group Journey. As I approach age 60, without having much to show for the few stunningly successful things I've done in my life, I must admit, I stopped "believing" a long time ago. And I love my dreams, but I do not regard them as reasonable plans for action. No, I cling to my deeply held doctrines of radical uncertainty! I do what I do with energy and faith, but I have no idea at all if I will gain any material reward for my efforts. Life requires commitment. You either commit to something, or you give up in despair. Well, despair sucks. I prefer faith. Faith as an act of Will, you might even say. Or, to put it a bit differently, that old-time existentialism is good enough for me!
Now, if you're 25, here are some words of wisdom for you:
"Right thinking" also has a collective aspect. The right thoughts to be instilled into the mind of a child in a village in Saudi Arabia in the year 1962 were very different from the right thoughts for a small town white American in that same year. I had a chance to give a short speech at a patriotic rally in the spring of that year. I still remember the beautiful weather, a few of my words, the blossoms on the apple trees, and a pretty female classmate who also spoke to our fellow students assembled on the lawn outside of the old Milford Jr. High School building on Hickory Street.
In spite of all my radical posturings in slightly different contexts, my remarks conformed quite well with Accepted Opinion of those days. I supported free speech. That was one of a number of concepts that kept America going as a prosperous, free country. It was, and I note a small element of paradox here, a message that had been instilled in me and in the minds of my classmates by the education we had been receiving up to that point. For an American child, for any American, it was "right thinking." If I had spoken about some need for government censorship, I'm sure someone would have beaten the daylights out of me!
These days, we have "political correctness," which is an organized attempt to instill alien forms of "right thinking" in the hope of transforming a society. A major problem is that societies are too complex for transformations to be "engineered." Sometimes they happen spontaneously, as when new religious ideas, such as Christianity or Buddhism sweep over a population. Even then, some ideas that have driven transformation have turned out to be spectacularly wrong, and the societies that adopted them suffered greatly. Naziism and Bolshevism are recent examples.
Thus, my opposition to the orgies of political correctness that take place all over America in "celebration" of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday holiday. (At the University of Michigan, this year's events were presented under the general heading, "The University of Michigan's Annual Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior Symposium." Next year, it will be the "Beloved Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior" and a few years later, it will be "The Supreme, Exalted, Beloved, Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior, Savior of the Black Race and Rectifier of our National Soul," and so on.) Anyway, check out the MLK day celebrations we had here in the Huron Valley, especially the "workshops" listed here and here. In particular, note the "Teaching for Global Citizenship: Key Principles for Transforming Schools" given by Richard Koch of Adrian College. According to the blurb, the workshop "will offer a power point presentation on making use of the life and views of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to enlighten ourselves about how to direct American schooling toward the creating of effective global citizens."
If you mean "global citizens" in a weak, figurative sense of people who are aware of global issues, of international issues, of how the U.S.A. should fit into the grand scheme of things, then I have no problem. If you mean that all racial, cultural, religious and national identities should be submerged and replaced by a strong sense of "global" citizenship, then I strenuously oppose such an "education," and I strenuously oppose any efforts to "transform" our public schools into vehicles for providing it. More to the point, a global order comprising thusly educated "global citizens" DOES NOT CURRENTLY EXIST. Therefore, educating our children to be "global citizens" (in the strong sense) does NOT contribute to the continuation of an established, functioning, pleasant world order. Rather, it merely indoctrinates them into some set of sectarian ideological fantasies. Public schools need to prepare the children of America for life in the real world.
I've written several other essays about MLK Day in the Huron Valley. See One Bad Idea and Martin Luther King Day, Milford High School and Racial Sentimentality.
Addendum, February 9, 2007:
I just finished reading an absolutely mind-blowing essay called Absolute Absolution - The Forgiveness of Original Sin By Ministers of Government Schooling by John Taylor Gatto. There's a fair amount in it that I might disagree with, but it's still loaded with amazing insights. Give it a read!
Copyright © 2007
If you wish to link to this article, try copying and pasting:
<a href="http://m3peeps.org/03/gart.htm">Globalism and Right Thinking</a>
[Go to index for Web Log, Volume Three]
[Go to m3peeps.org home page]