Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The "Problem" of Education

The major problem of contemporary education is this thinking that “education” is about classrooms and higher teacher pay and benefits (government employment) -- rather than it is about a culture of self-improvement -- anywhere, anytime, by anyone, from everything.

There are plenty of buildings unused or underutilized most of the time -- often for the exclusive purposes of learning (or anything else) -- for a few hours a day, that would make fine uses for other purposes also.

The homeless should be encouraged to homestead those areas, instead of prime recreational beachfront property , and maintain and improve them and provide security in exchange. They might also attend classes to improve their job skills.

So this compartmentalization of thinking is what creates scarcity in a world of unprecedented safety, security and prosperity -- despite what the demagogues of the world would like people to believe -- the the world was never in such dismal shape. And this is because of the problem of education and propaganda (advertising) -- that what people think of the world, is very different than it actually is.

Ignorance is not about leaky classrooms or low teacher pay as it is the requirement that people need teachers in order for them to learn -- and continue learning all their lives, as though learning is dependent on the teacher, schools and universities, and not the student. The good student learns from everything and everybody -- and not just the self-designated few, who may not have any idea of what they are talking about, but that is what everybody with that education thinks because they haven’t even begun to ask the right questions. In fact, what they have learned in schools is not to question the “right” authorities (status quo), and to mark down the “correct” answers rather than inquiring into the unknown, which is really what needs to be known.

That’s what real students do -- rather than repeating what they have been taught -- as though that was the ultimate test of intelligence, rather than stupidity, gullibility, and political self-aggrandizement.

Monday, November 26, 2007

“Good Tidings of Great Joy” (A Christmas Story)

This is the time of the year to reflect on the great leaders in the history of humankind -- who have made peace and prosperity possible, by daring to envision such possibilities when they were not obvious and thought possible for everyone.

Unfortunately, “leadership” in our time has come to be discussed almost exclusively as the petty ambitions of politicians instead of the great visions of true leaders -- who really change the world with their thinking. Christmas is a chance to reflect on those great awakenings in every life -- of great promise and wonder about the possibilities of unprecedented moments of transcendence -- that unfortunately most lose in living their lives, eventually to become proud of their cynicism and skepticsm about everything they once hoped for and dreamed of.

Instead, they look at a life in which they never dared to do except what they’ve done year after year in unbroken repetition, trying to justify habits as virtuous traditions -- while their lives have passed them by. They once intended to do everything possible -- but quickly convinced themselves that nothing else was possible, or even imaginable -- and so they dared not think there could be a life beyond.

So the Christmas season is a fitting reminder that there can be something new and different and not just the same life repeated year after year, with no additions, no changes, no expectations for anything different. The “gifts” are the testament to the passing of time and its improvements -- as a common, communal, societal, “religious” experience. It’s not just the peace and prosperity for a few that is celebrated, but the richness of all without exception and exclusion.

The greatest of leaders are those who do not create the divisions with their partisanship and prejudices, while the worst of “leaders,” are those who do nothing else but promote the interest of themselves over everybody else, and we should be clear about such distinctions of excellence -- and not insist, that we should no longer be able to make such distinctions -- as though it was some kind of political correctness and virtue.

That is the beginning of all mischief -- that men can no longer distinguish between the good and the bad, and like to say, “Everybody else does it so why shouldn’t I?” In that, is distinguished the great leaders from the worst, for those who mistake following for great leadership. Obviously, they have no idea what that concept means anymore, except to follow, like everybody else, in blaming the “right” people, for all the problems, they will not own up to as their ultimate responsibility.

The reason for all that goes wrong, is that somebody else should have done something -- and until then, they can do nothing themselves, because “their hands are tied.” But the truth is, their hands are not tied but just simply held behind their backs to hide their fingers that are crossed so they can tell every lie with impunity and immunity.

But the good news can only be seen by those of good will -- and not by those who sow the divisions of conflict and hatred. -- as “their job.”

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What Really Matters

The important distinction to make in people is not whether they are biased left (liberal) or right (conservative), but whether they are biased at all -- as a source of information, as well as intelligence and insight. That is the quality that the best thinkers and information processors are first determining, before they allow any further information through.

Yet, for quite some time, the newspapers (editors) have placed great importance on how one is biased -- rather than that one is biased or not -- and only quote liberally, those who are the most biased (partisan), rather than those who are the most unbiased, who are actually suppressed (silenced) so that people think the only thing possible is to be either biased or more biased, and the more biased one is, the greater the chances of being quoted and becoming recognized as an “authority” on any matter, which of course, is one’s willingness to distort the truth, to obtain only their desired ambition of outcome, no matter what the truth really is.

But that undermines and destroys credibility, trust and integrity in a society, and rewards those who are the most deceptive and manipulative. And that is why, most critical readers of the Internet, or any other media, look first to determine the credibility of the speaker (source), whether there is bias in any of their perceptions as the quality that implies the trustworthiness of any reports they receive -- and not simply whether what they hear confirms (conforms) with their narrow, partisan and prejudiced view of the world.

It doesn’t matter how liberal (or conservative) a person is; what matters is how prejudiced, biased and bigoted a person is -- in determining those one wishes to rely on for information and further contact. Otherwise, there are these pools in which everybody thinks alike but there is nobody in that crowd one would wish to get to know and associate with further -- although you might eat their “free lunch” before realizing that it was not free but given with the expectations that you “owe” them forevermore.

In this manner, one quickly crosses the line and loses the ability to make such valid distinctions -- and then proclaims, one should not be able to make any distinctions (discriminations) at all -- as though that was some kind of badge of honor and merit of high distinction, instead of one who has become so corrupted, they don’t want to know such differences anymore. Unfortunately, one sees too many people like that -- particularly working in jobs as bureaucrats, enforcing the code of behavior and ethics for everybody else in society. Eventually, all they are concerned about, is their own benefits rather than the greater society’s they originally convinced themselves they got into because “they were selfless and loved mankind (the keiki, the kupuna, the whales, the trees, etc.,” even if it means eliminating all mankind in the process.

Thus convinced, one comes to regard everything one believes as the only true, right and “politically correct” way -- and all others should be “eliminated,” or just put in their place, out of sight so their voices cannot be heard. From there, it is an easy matter to support all the other dictators and tyrants in the world, sending messages of “Aloha,” and “Right on,” to all the other “valiant defenders” of that status quo.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

“Make-Work” Projects

I guess the most glaring example of a “pork-barrel” (make-work) project, is the City of Honolulu’s The Boat of offering more options to the problem of traffic congestion -- by providing worse options and alternatives, as though somehow, that was going to solve, let alone eliminate the problem. Finally, as though a reprieve from Heaven, one of the troubled boats breaks down and so they no longer have the embarrassment of running an empty boat for its “regularly” scheduled daily trips. Presumably, they can save expending those extra expenses while still raking in their $6 million windfall funding -- for services no longer delivered.

In the weird way these projects are assessed, let alone audited (if ever), city officials have proclaimed the experimental project an “astounding success” -- which leads one to wonder what is going on in all the other departments, besides the obvious constant high-repair and high-maintenance of the streets. It seems that here in Hawaii, the roadways become undone as soon as they are used -- and so the ONLY alternative they can conceive of, is to ban the use of them, which the "work" crews and barriers effectively do.

But this is Hawaii, and so all the rules of sensibility and experience that work universally and predictably well everywhere else in the world, are overturned and overruled, and all we can do is pass and rigidly enforce laws, by which only two cars are allowed per minute to use any stretch of Hawaii constructed roadway -- to ensure that no deer will be hit crossing the roadways. Even one deer killed on the roadways would be one deer too many -- and so the proposed new pork-barrel (make-work) project our congressional delegation will be proposing, is for deer-sighting watchers to be posted at every intersection -- and cars will now be required to travel at a top speed of 15 miles per hour, to ensure that no life is ever lost in a traffic incident.

Those risks and costs must be reduced to zero, before any other car, is allowed to proceed. Eventually, it is hoped, 100% of the population will be employed to see that no accident can ever occur -- and then everybody will have a high-paying, supervisory position, ensuring that nothing is ever done. And for that, we will expect to be paid more each year -- to keep up with the high-cost of living, because all the money one makes and spends, can’t buy anything that is being produced -- because now there is a ban on making any products, if it requires changing one thing into something else -- even if it means making something useful, from something that isn’t, which is what the high muck-a-mucks intended, for Hawaii always to be.

This is a culture and society of dysfunction, in which no person is ever free, but subject to the tyranny of arbitrary decisions and power, because it’s “always been that way,” and must be forevermore. That is the legacy, of all who came before us -- and they would be very angered and outraged, if we were to break that pattern -- and do something useful and productive in our lifetimes, or for our terms in office -- whichever comes last.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

In A Land Far Away (Petty Despots)

What was characteristic of tribal (feudalistic) organization and society, was that each person in the power hierarchy, was allowed their own “turf,” to do with as they pleased, without a universal code of conduct also known as ‘federalism“ in which what was valid in one place, was valid elsewhere -- unlike the feudalistic rules, in which whatever the local "boss" decreed, was the law of the turf they controlled, no matter how unjust it might seem anywhere else.

Thus in places like Hawaii or the antebellum South, petty tyrants were within their rights to do as they pleased -- because there were no universally applicable principles and laws. Individuals just made them up -- as they saw fit and it pleased them. There were no universal guidelines of appropriate conduct for everyone, under every circumstances. Such rule, in the worst cases and most common, were purely arbitrary, dependent upon the whims of the individuals, and so one’s experiences could vary greatly, depending on whether one had been born in fortunate circumstances and among kindly people, or was unfortunate to be born among those who regarded everyone else as their own personal pawns, to do with whatever one could get away with.

That’s why it is pretty shocking to learn of people still living under tribal rules and organization in many parts of the world -- in which people are killed because somebody has felt offended them in some fashion. Those feelings of anger and resentment are identified by the demagogues of the world and fanned into rage and insensibilities, that nothing less than taking as many lives as possible, seems to those individuals, the only course of action they are allowed.

But in modern civilizations, people always have a choice from the limited “option” they are presented -- to either assent or dissent to the one choice the powers that be who wish to always remain so, tell them they are allowed. Many conditioned only in such societies of being rewarded and punished for making these “right” choices according to these despots, are convinced there is nothing else they can do but strap explosives to their bodies and blow everybody else up -- as God’s will.

While such obvious fanaticism is easy to see and think oneself beyond such tyranny, in democracies, one still has to learn to avoid the domination and subjugation of authoritarian figures and control -- into the freedom of thinking for oneself and truly deciding the fate of one’s own life. Unfortunately, that is the most important lesson usually not taught or even acknowledged in most educational institutions -- because it would upset that whole status quo of that pecking order that has evolved over hundreds of years, and which its most ardent adherents are loathe to give up their privileges of being honored over everybody else as their lifetime entitlement.

Those are the old rules of society -- of privilege, titles, status -- and what is emerging as the new culture and society, are those who simply say, everything should be reviewed and reevaluated on its own merits -- for these unprecedented times. That is the personality and culture that liberates the explosive creativity of minds that no longer accept the age-old problems of the way things must be, as though the repetition of the past, is the only future and fate of the living.