By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to “be rational” or “set aside your religion” about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters.
Once you’ve made a journey like this — once you’ve gone this far — you are beyond suggestible.
It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve gotten to this place, you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things.
“We both laughed and wondered how in the world two people with polar opposite beliefs could agree on a Presidential candidate.”
This opposites-attract Ron Paul phenomenon is remarked upon in a new book I was reading last night, by Matt Taibbi: “The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics & Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire.”
I doubt Paul enthusiasts liberal or conservative will like this analysis of Ron Paul’s um, peculiar appeal, but its power of story rings true and should be quite “educational” to homeschool families across the ideological spectrum, struggling through what I too believe is a turning-point election:
The Ron Paul candidacy was an extreme example of outsider politics on the left and right merging. . .retreats from the mainstream that traveled in opposite directions but were parallel in substance. . .
Both groups were and are defined primarily by an unshakable belief in the inhumanity of their enemies on the other side. . .
He says both belief poles are off the rational reservation deep into magical thinking and conspiracy theories, can’t even agree on a common set of facts to debate, distrust the news media even more than their own elected government, and basically elections have become simply “a forum for organizing the hatreds of the population.”
“We don’t respond to problems as communities but as demographics.”
On the back of the book jacket, fellow political author Michelle Goldberg says Taibbi shines a light on “the corruption, absurdities and idiot pieties” of modern American politics, with “surprising compassion for the adrift, credulous souls who are taken in by it all.”
Idiot pieties. Credulous souls taken in by it all. Well said — that’s what I see in all directions, too, what makes me read books like Great Derangement, Howard Gardner’s “Changing Minds” in all its education brilliance, and Lakoff’s ““The Political Mind: “Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain.” Why I don’t often use political and religious labels for myself. Why I won’t play party politics and haven’t for decades. And why my support for Barack Obama is basically in spite of his party’s support, not because of it.
In case you don’t read Gardner as passionately as I do, you may need this quick review of the Seven Levers with which we change our own minds and each other’s, and eventually our society’s thinking:
Gardner’s Seven Levers of Mind Change:
4. Representational Redescriptions
5. Resources and Rewards
6. Real World Events
But we (homeschoolers especially?) might not think mind change on OUR part is needed. Maybe that’s why we need to read and discuss other books first, to understand that if any demographic were completely right, we collectively probably wouldn’t have gone so completely wrong. That could be where The Great Derangement can educate us — here’s another look at the lessons it offers, from a publisher’s take:
Matt discovered in his travels across the country that the resilient blue state/red state narrative of American politics had become irrelevant. A large and growing chunk of the American population was so turned off—or radicalized—by electoral chicanery, a spineless news media, and the increasingly blatant lies from our leaders. . . that they abandoned the political mainstream altogether. They joined what he calls The Great Derangement.
Taibbi tells the story of this new American madness by inserting himself into four defining American subcultures:
The Military, where he finds himself mired in the grotesque black comedy of the American occupation of Iraq;
The System, where he follows the money-slicked path of legislation in Congress;
The Resistance, where he doubles as chief public antagonist and undercover member of the passionately bonkers 9/11 Truth Movement; and
The Church, where he infiltrates a politically influential apocalyptic mega-ministry in Texas and enters the lives of its desperate congregants.
Together these four interwoven adventures paint a portrait of a nation dangerously out of touch with reality and desperately searching for answers in all the wrong places.
Yep. For example I read this from Spunky as out-of-touch: “Has there ever been a more dismal choice for president?”
And this, as searching for answers in all the wrong places:
“I often learn the most from those that think the least like me; so, if there are any Barak Obama or McCain supporters out there who believe their choice is the best one for homeschoolers, I’d love to hear why.”
I guess I fit the bill as someone who thinks the least like Spunky, but can I give her an answer that will make any sense to either one of us? Not to that question, I expect.
I am both an education policy professional and a long-time unschooler who cherishes my family’s independence and academic freedom, someone who is all about education’s power of story, all the time — but I don’t think I can learn anything important to me and my family and community from poring over candidates’ public “education policy” statements. Not this year.
Now is the time, I think, for independently studying each candidate’s true-life story and coming to understand it within the context of our own, not for collecting and comparing poll-driven, staff-written, dueling-demographic soundbites.
If this election does as I believe, present a last-chance opportunity to pull out of our democratic death-spiral, then we’ll need better educated and more thoroughly understood answers to who WE are, and who we aspire to be as America.
And who we choose as our next president might well make a difference to that kind of education politics. (Either way, unfortunately.)