There are a bunch of sour pusses running around who quote John Adams on “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” to claim that every misfortune that comes our way is because we’re not moral and religious according to their version of morality and religion, or that we’ll never make the republic function, because, you know, we’re not perfect angels.
That sound you hear is me rolling my eyes hard.
Look, I haven’t made a concerted study of John Adams other than reading up on the revolution in general (yeah, I know I need to but time keeps running away from me.) I do know that while religious and definitely moral (look, a man who defends enemy soldiers because that’s the right thing to do is moral. You just might not like where his morality takes him) he was not a sourpuss, and would not demand that everyone be perfect angels according to his definition of moral and religion before the republic would work. If he felt that way, he might as well have sat on his hands, since humans are not and have never been angels or morally perfect, or you know flawlessly religious.
I think what he meant was more along the lines of “people have to agree on a frame work for the world and it should be [what we would call] that of western civ.” I.e. humans are imperfect, and only G-d is perfect, and we do the right thing even when it hurts us. Also, the right thing is roughly contained in the ten commandments which by themselves enjoin respect for “the other” and his rights.
Not that John would expect us to be perfect at it. He was human, and though it’s tempting to imagine their world back then was much simpler, it takes only an average intelligence and a modicum of knowledge to figure out it wasn’t.
Which brings us to that common framework, and not just in morals and religion (It’s always hard to educate people in a plural religious society. Just not deriding religion in public might be all we can ask for. Morals on the other hand, we have a framework for in our own constitution and we should definitely be raising kids with the idea of the “right thing” you know like not stealing or murdering, and not sponging off people.) We’re failing them all across the board. Which is unconscionable considering the years we make kids spend in Maximum Security schools, aka K -12.
I might have told the story here of when I was in college and for reasons I can no longer remember (the Shakespeare group?) took a train at 4 or 5 am into the city. These trains are the equivalent of red eye flights with the difference that not only are they cheap, but they are the only way people from far flung regions can get into the city. (Or could. This was before the highway system and widespread car ownership) Which means they start at 9 pm or so and stop.at.every.stop.no.matter how minor. Back then the stop in the village was almost voluntary in that it wasn’t even marked and sometimes new conductors “forgot” it playing havoc with my school schedule.
This one stopped, though, and on it were people from far in the mountains, who’d been traveling all night. There was also a young man, maybe 14 who was making his way through the train, telling the tragic tale of how his family had been killed in the war in Spain, and he was a refugee with nothing.
In case you’re wondering, this was 1983. Yeah, there was no war in Spain. I tried to fit it with any of the bombings, but nothing recently in the news fit. And yet, all these women were cooing over him and opening their purses.
Look, at the time, the war in Spain was something they’d heard from their parents as I had. The required education was fourth grade, a lot of it very practical skills like how to tell if an egg was rotted, with a smattering of academic stuff (math, history, geography, grammar) at the end just so those heading to prep school (grades 5 and 6 — prep because it prepared you for high school) had the rudiments. Most of my classmates went to work the day after they finished 4th grade. And the history we got never got past about 1900. So what did they have?
Oh, the means to inform themselves, for sure. Newspapers and books, and radio stations devoted to history and mythology and stuff. I know this because my mom listened to those late at night when she was working because on a deadline.
But most people don’t care. It’s just not important for their daily life. Which means they fall for little sobs with an sob story in the train, but also for presentism and the lies of the Marxists. Because, really, how would they know that this thing that sounds so good has failed and filled mass graves over and over again?
Never happen here, you say? We have 12 years of education. TWELVE. Surely people have a common framework for the world when they leave school. It might be tilted left, but it’s a framework.
You wish. What they actually have is a very odd mishmash topped with bits of popular books and movies.
And I’m not talking stupid, mind you. I’ve heard things like this from people who were smart and even gifted in their fields, except that their interests didn’t fall to either history, economics or politics.
For instance one of my art teachers (post graduate education) once told me that Anne Rice did impeccable research about how there was a peaceful matriarchy before– Yeah.
Heard same from well spoken people in grocery store about Dan Brown’s “amazing research” and the things he’d “uncovered.”
If you pursue conversation with these people you find their idea of the past is a mishmash of confusing insanity overlaid with the ideas of the SJWs, because those are really loud and have penetrated. For instance, the idea women were always discriminated against, because men are evil. Or that the normal state of women throughout history was roughly Victorian England for the upper classes: not allowed to work, not allowed to go out alone, etc. (In fact most women throughout history have worked, because they needed to, and who the hell can accompany every woman throughout. They think all women live basically in sharia countries, always.)
Two things I overheard this weekend, by no means from people who look stupid drove this point home to me.
The first was that England has had only one Queen, Queen Charlotte, the surviving widow of Henry VIII (!). The second was more alarming in terms of policy: Apparently, Brexit broke up the EU, so it’s o longer the United Kingdom and that’s why Britain and Ireland have different currencies. (And that’s a bad thing.) These people are planing a trip to England, while they still have at least one castle, because it’s important to see where we came from and all that history.
I will note my dinner companions prevented me from delivering a lecture, in withering terms on the fact that while the UK is in Europe/ish, it’s NOT all of Europe, that Brexit had nothing to do with breaking up the EU but with freeing the UK from the EU and that what they don’t know about currencies could be carried in a very large bucket.
I also wanted to beg them please, for the love of Bob, not to vote, because as far as their vote has foreign implications, they will do something horrendous. H*ll, I wouldn’t bet their view of national politics isn’t about the same level of crazy.
And this, THIS is why people can swallow nonsense about writers (who have no power in the field) keeping women and minorities (Why do they never mention people of different orientations when talking outside the field, I wonder) out of writing sf/f. Or why each five years women storm SF/F AGAIN for the first time. Or why they think that STEM is conspiring to keep women out, or why they buy the idiocy that there are refugees from Central America whose problems won’t be solved by moving a 100 kilometers (other than their country sucking, but that doesn’t entitle them to come here and make ours suck) or why they’re always willing to “try” socialism again “for the first time.”
They live in an undigested soup of stuff they gleaned from entertainment, vague memories of something or other heard in school, the stories their parents/grandparents told them.
How to fix it is harder. We can’t fix the poverty problem because some people just WON’T do a lick of work over the absolutely required. I mean, to the point of preferring to live in trash to their knees rather then picking stuff up. (I’ve seen it. Trust me on this.) Evolutionary when we were scavenging apes and couldn’t store food long, but impairing now. I mean, we’re the crazy ones, but it gives us an advantage in producing and creating.
Unfortunately that laziness applies with bells on to education. People don’t WANT to learn. They will take what they can, undigested, and retain very little of even that outside their fields.
So how is a republic to survive.
First we need to teach history better. And by this I mean throw Howard Zinn out the window (is he still alive? Because the idea of literal defenestration is kind of cute. But I mean his books and ideas.) but beyond that, teach history in short bursts of “this is how this era was” and make sure the things are simple enough to stick. Never mind about the dates. People are going to telescope them anyway. Just “this happened, then this happened.”
Second, we need to teach geography better. The UK is not the EU. The EU is a recent construction. That sort of thing.
Third, teach how we are different and how radically innovative our founding principles are.
Sure, I’m just dreaming, right now. But things are changing. It might happen.
On the other hand, remember they also take entertainment. We need to write more of that and do more of that. Make sure your history is right in romances, in light adventure, in short and amusing mysteries. Because the SJWs no longer have the only microphone, and even the disconnected are starting to “get” that the left ideas don’t work. So, we have a chance.
But we can’t be timid or embarrassed. In books, in movies, in social situations, we need to be able to go “Oh, please.” Yeah, it won’t work well with total strangers, but with work mates? Classmates? People who know you? It will work and chip at the invincible fog of ignorance behind which the left operates.
We are the sappers for the culture war battalions, making the ground safe for the advance of more serious education.
Go build and do and teach.
Because the clueless shall always be with us, but the republic can’t survive its being as near universal as it is. Let the fighting back begin with you.