On Mass Ignorance and Superficiality

        “No one gives a damn about apathy!” — facetious quote by Jim Johnson

Polls consistently show that Americans in bulk:
* Pay more attention to utterly meaningless superficialities (American Idol, celebrity gossip, etc.) than to domestic or foreign affairs,

* Are grotesquely ignorant of history (e.g., can’t express the meaning of more than two Constitutional amendments, describe the Marshall Plan, associate Sitting Bull with the correct tribe, or name even one of the Big Three of Yalta),

* Are unable to identify Afghanistan — site of a major, ongoing war involving the U.S. — on a blank map of nations,

* Have no clue about the magnitude of governmental spending, nor the difference between the budget deficit and the national debt,

* Cannot name their school superintendent, city councilor, state representative, state senator, U. S. representative, and U. S. senator

* Cannot name even three correct aspects of the new “health care” law, whichever side they’ve taken.

Yet they can tell you who won American Idol, who is dating Jennifer Aniston, or the entire lyrics to a song in the Top 40. What does that say?

These form the bulk of voters, and an even larger percentage of those who don’t vote. For better or worse, your vote or mine counts the same as the drooling schlub who thinks Hu Jintao is something you eat off the Happy Garden’s buffet line, and whose greatest concern is whether he can freeze-frame the TV camera peeking up the skirt of one of the hot babes on Dancing with the Stars.

Blame money or TV if you will, but it is a collective of tens of millions of individuals who, through their own chosen manner of ill-educated, shortsighted, selfish thinking, flapping hither and yon in the breezes of their ten-second attention spans, genuflecting at the altar not of God but of their own instant gratification, that permits this condition to flourish. These are ills are directly symptomatic of a multi-decadal societal, ethical and motivational corrosion, one that pre-dates my own birth and reaches at least into the early 1960s. The result is a society consisting of members systematically bereft of:

* Firm childhood guidance at home from worshipful married parents having unambiguously defined roles, then in turn,

* The guiding compass of ethical clarity and moral certitude that arises from such, and finally,

* A system of compulsory K-12 education containing a level of curricular rigor and strict discipline befitting the sort of academic mass-excellence necessary to dominate the worldwide intellectual scene.

Instead, we’ve got this, this, and this. Materialism, indifference and self-worship reign. The lack of church- and family-magnetized moral compasses in enough members of mass media, big business and government probably is why all those institutions have become so corrupt.

I don’t foresee a cure, either, nor the unified public will to compel one. The abject failure of the Kansas City experiment has shown resoundingly that throwing money at problems doesn’t solve them. And yet, our government is throwing billions of dollars that it doesn’t have at all sorts of troubles, most ultimately arisen from greed and selfish shortsightedness, heaping further upon an incomprehensibly vast monetary debt that our descendants must pay with potentially horrifying consequences for the integrity and security of our nation and of its citizenry. The genie is out of the bottle, to the decided detriment of the inherent American role as a free nation in a position of world leadership.

Countless troops have died for the freedoms we take for granted, the greatest freedoms the world ever has known. Yet with freedom comes matching responsibility. Therefore, we also have, collectively, the greatest responsibilities the world ever has known. We are abdicating them by means of apathy! Exercising our freedom to do what we want, without the counterbalancing disciplinary temperance of accountability that motivates us to do what we should, is our undoing.

It’s not the purview of government to shape society, but the other way around. To do so requires a well-educated, aware, responsible, and faithful citizenship whose priorities are straight. Such people realize that the only honorable path to achievement is hard work. Such people realize that neither individuals, nor corporations, nor government, can get something for nothing. Such people realize that difficult, painful and unpopular choices sometimes must be made. Such people are increasingly absent in positions of leadership all across government, positions that are decided far more on personal popularity, charisma and telegenic appeal than actual merit, qualifications, earned credentials and accomplishment.

Only with an absolutely massive, society-wide paradigm shift toward honor, family-based moral and ethical unambiguity, diligence, personal and corporate accountability, and true excellence in all forms of work, can the listing ship be saved. We’ve gone too long and too widely without them. Dangerous are the resulting levels of mass ignorance, a thirst for pop-fad, flavor-of-the-moment leadership, and a decided gullibility to passionate speech without experienced substance. After all, such is precisely the civic condition that freely elected Hitler.

        “Of the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” — George Washington

        “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams


One Response to “On Mass Ignorance and Superficiality”

  1. tornado on September 13th, 2010 9:28 pm

    Comments by Chuck Doswell follow…

    I agree with almost all of this, but obviously, we disagree about certain aspects of why this might be happening. For example, religious right-wing pseudo-pundits like Glenn Beck think that universities are “re-education camps”, likening them to Communist indoctrination camps, which is absurd and more than a bit scary, given his large following. In fact he and others represent examples of the failure of people to think for themselves and investigate issues on their own. These guys fill the aether with bogus information and nonsense, while their seemingly mindless followers simply lap up what’s dished out, apparently accepting it at face value, without any further investigation.

    Further, those who espouse young Earth/Creationist versions of cosmology/geology/biology are actively seeking to dumb down the scientific education of our children. That they have been successful in red states like KS, OK, and especially TX is quite disturbing to me, which is (again) indicative of the rise of ignorance and religious mythology wherever it intersects science.

    Moreover, although I agree fully that personal responsibility is apparently declining, I don’t think morality springs only from a religious source. One need not be religious to be moral, but obviously someone needs to take responsibility for the moral values of children. It’s apparent to me that many parents are dropping the ball … one need only listen to student conversations … the things that I teach about personal responsibility seem like brand-new revelations to many students, who should have arrived at the university with these notions already well-established in their heads.

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