Systemic Suckitude

I just wrote about my views on what I called a fucked up world. I was ranting about the failure of politics, specifically partisan and identity politics, to deal with real world suffering. It all comes down to rationalizing the problems of my group and scapegoating some other group.

It irritates me, to say the least.

I’ve never felt like I had a group. I don’t strongly identify with any social identity. It feels rather incidental and random that I was born a particular gender, race, nationality, class, etc. I can’t take credit or blame for these conditions of my fate.

Anyway, suffering doesn’t care all that much about your social identity. Anyone can suffer, although suffering is far worse for some. I mean, if you have a car accident or get some crippling disease, the animal reality of suffering is basically the same. Maybe you can get better pain drugs and a little bit more comfort, but no amount of wealth or privilege can solve the mystery of suffering.

I have a clear sense of this because of my personal experience. I’ve suffered severe depression for I guess more than a couple of decades now. I’ve had severe depression for most of my life now. I can hardly remember what life was like before it.

Depression is a unique category of suffering. Unlike the PTSD of a veteran or the physical disability of a parapalegic, depression typically has no obvious cause or reason, no obvious effect even. It pissed me off, when I first began struggling, because there was nothing I could point to and blame. It was some internal failure inside me that couldn’t even be pinpointed. There was no dramatic story to be shared about being abused or growing up poor, no political oppression or horrific racism.

Depression is just pure unadulterated suffering. My experience of it has allowed me to better grasp suffering on its own terms, and not get stuck on the proxies of suffering. Race is a proxy for class in our society, but then class is proxy of other things. Everything is a proxy of something else, except for our most intimate and direct experiences. Depression needs to be proxy for nothing. It just is.

This is what few understand about the essence of suffering. It ultimately doesn’t matter what causes your suffering because in reality there never is a single cause. Suffering is irreducible, humanity at its most fundamental. To understand suffering, we must understand the human condition.

Yes, this involves all those other factors that contribute and exacerbate suffering. I don’t mean to dismiss the objective realities of victims. But in a world of suffering, the struggle of individuals is never really individual nor even demographic. Your social identity will offer you little comfort or protection from this shared human condition enmeshed in a shared society. It is the entire world that is fucked up. It is systemic suckitude.

Social labels only separate us from this harsh reality.

17 thoughts on “Systemic Suckitude

  1. It’s a downward cycle. I think one of the issues with things like suicide is it is a function of how much stress you feel.

    It’s one of those things where you:

    1. Something happens
    2. Get miserable
    3. Lose hope
    4. Worse things happen

    It becomes this sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. That is not to say wildly optimistic people are assured success, but they are better in that regard.

    Also, I think that one serious problem in our society is that depression may be a physical problem, not psychological. There is for example widespread magnesium deficiency in our diets.

    Society wise, here is a very interesting article to read:

    I suspect that the southern US in particular has a great deal of what this author describes as “Thar”.

    • Depression may not be entirely a psychological dysfunction.

      A part of depression is often pessimism. At least one study found that pessimists have a more accurate perception of present reality, including self-assessments. They aren’t as talented at changing conditions, but they are very perceptive about what those conditions are. That is probably an evolutionarily advantageous personality trait that would be selected for to some extent.

      That is one example of how we tend to look at things related to ‘suffering’ in overly simplistic ways. We tend to assume everything besides happiness and optimism serves no purpose.

      My thought in this post was what if we took suffering on its own terms. Not looking for reasons to explain it or explain it away in too narrow of terms. There are many contributing factors, from physical health to trauma, that increases the probability and exacerbates suffering. But those things don’t explain everything. Even under the most optimal conditions, humans still suffer, still experience pain, get sick, and die, still have non-rational fears and have their desires thwarted; et cetera.

      I live a fairly non-stressful life. I eat more healthily and exercise more than the average American. I’ve never experienced horrific trauma or debilitating disease. I’m a white male American with relative privilege. I have plenty of money and time to pursue my interests and passions. Compared to most people in the world, my life is awesome. Yet I’ve suffered severe depression for decades.

      No amount of reasons can fully explain my depression, although genetics probably plays a big part. Most genetics influences but does not absolutely determine psychological and behavioral outcomes. There are likely thousands of other contributing and exacerbating factors. It is a complex web.

      My point is that, if a single factor can’t be blamed for all or most suffering, then no single group can be scapegoated. Suffering and the conditions of suffering are systemic. To understand them, we have to understand all of human nature, all of human society. We have to take a larger view. Even health is part of a larger system of culture, social capital, social order, politics, economics, and natural environment.

      This means individual people and individual groups can’t be dismissively blamed for their own suffering. Instead, if we took suffering seriously, we’d have to take shared responsibility as a global society. That is a daunting prospect. Responsibility at that level scares many people shitless.

      • It’s human nature that becomes the barrier here, like in other things.

        As far as whether humans or a culture should be blamed, I think that it depends on the circumstances.Some things cannot be controlled. Some can.

        Yes, health is a part of a larger thing. Even in places with universal healthcare, wealth is correlated with health, although not to the same extent that it is in the US.

        I disagree though that we should just accept it. I think we should aggressively pursue the root causes. The problem of not doing is that other people may also problems that they otherwise could have avoided.

        As far as responsibility goes, it’s a matter of willful ignorance. People do not want to learn, they do not want to find out the truth. The truth terrifies.

        • We are not in disagreement about this. I’m all for going afer root causes. But first we need the knowledge and context to understand the root causes.

          Too many people falsely believe they have the root causes figured out. Ideological dogmatism likes to parade around like it has all the answers. Wrong answers can be worse than no answers. But that is no excuse for not looking for a better understanding.

    • I checked out the article. I’ve had a long-time interest in honor cultures (and their opposite, trust cultures). That is an important topic. The article makes some good points. I agree with the general argument.

      I would counter, though, with the historical perspective which explains why honor cultures formed. Such cultures wouldn’t exist if they didn’t offer advantages. They often form in historical zones of conflict, typically in border regions. In those places, honor cultures were how these people survived for they didn’t take shit from anyone, most especially not invaders and occupiers. It is because of honor cultures that Scotland and Ireland are independent countries today, instead of territories of England.

      The problem is when these past cultures no longer make sense in the present. These cultures end up perpetuating themselves, long after the original justifying conditions have changed. Even immigrants end up bringing their cultures to new places. The honor cultures in the South, for example, didn’t form there but were brought there by immigrants. A permanent region of honor and violence has been created in the South. Some argue that this is even the source of violence in the inner cities, as African Americans brought the honor culture to the North.

      On one specific point, I would offer a different perspective than the author. He mentions the Japanese:.

      “One of the most profound consequences of mistranslating foreign terms as “honor” is a tendency by many people to regard Japanese society as similar to the thar cultures of the Balkans and the Middle East. Japan is not a “shame” culture – Japan and the West are the two great “guilt” cultures of the world (and this, I’m convinced, is directly responsible for their leadership in technology, but that’s a long story I’ll touch on below.) The Japanese code of Bushido indeed placed great emphasis on personal honor but also on obedience no matter what.”

      I would say the Japanese are a culture of shame, rather than guilt. They aren’t traditionally an individualistic society, which seems to be the basis of a guilt culture. The honor suicides in Japan are an expression of honor and shame. Guilt cultures don’t tend toward honor suicides. The Japanese traditionally would take death before dishonor.

      That is why, during WWII, the Japanese fought to the death and would gladly commit suicide attacks. Honor was everything to them. This honor went hand in hand with xenophobic hatred of outsiders, which is why they would wantonly torture and kill prisoners of war. Their honor was about their identity with the group.

      “When the Japanese were ordered by the Emperor to surrender and submit in 1945, they did. When the Japanese were told by the Emperor to submit to the worst, they quite literally expected to be punished and enslaved. We for our part expected sullen acquiescence at best and terrorism at worst. Both sides, to their immense relief, saw the best side of the other.”

      I don’t see submission to imperialism as a shame versus guilt issue. Great Arab empires have existed throughout history that demanded and received submission from its populations. If the ruling monarchy and theocracy in Saudi Arabia makes a command, most of the members of that honor culture will obey without question. If anything, it takes an individualistic guilt mentality to question authority.

      One difference to keep in mind comes from an entirely different source.Small iIsland nations, like Japan, have unique conditions. There is an emphasized dynamic of submission and independence because of the historical role island nations tend to play.

      Arabs have never been an island people. Also, what we see in the Middle East and North Africa in many ways has more to do with the destructive effects of a dark colonial history and Western interventionism. The Ottoman Empire was a one of the greatest in history. When that empire was destroyed and artificially carved up Western countries, conflicts were enforced onto these societies that didn’t exist previously. The invasion, occupation, and violent oppression of Palestinians is an example of this.

      The Japanese, after their defeat, weren’t occupied and violently oppressed for the next several generations. We did the opposite and spent massive amount of resources to help rebuild their society and gave them back their independence. Unlike the ghettoized Palestinians living on reservations, the Japanese don’t live in a fascist police state ruled over by foreigners. Decades of political and military oppression also creates another unique dynamic.

      “Just imagine the PLO ever accepting an order to recognize the right of Israel to exist. Just imagine the Irish Republican Army obeying an order from the Vatican to disarm. Just imagine the Serbs following an order to give up Kosovo. Just imagine any of these groups accepting the legitimacy of anyone who even tried to issue such a command.”

      As I said, the Israeli’s are an invading and occupying force. If a foreign country invaded and occupied America and put all Americans into a couple small reservations, I doubt we Americans would recognize the fascist police state’s right to exist in oppressing us.

      As for the Irish, they experienced one of the largest genocides in world history. Most of the population was killed, sent into slave-like indentured servitude, or forced to flee. Because of this history of genocide, more people of Irish descent live in the US than live in Ireland. The oppression of the Irish by the English lasted for centuries and was immensely violent. As for the Vatican, the Irish may be Catholic, but the Vatican remains a foreign power. It is the same reason American Catholics refuse to do every little thing the Vatican tells them to do. It is the same reason American colonials refused to do what the British Empire told them to do, even during the time they identified as British.

      All local populations, no matter their culture, will willingly accept foreign rule. Or if they are the rulers, give up their power. Imagine the United States giving the land back to the Native Americans. Imagine England given Northern Ireland back to the Irish. It’s not going to happen.

      It has nothing to do with guilt versus shame, honor versus trust. Important distinctions need to be made. Conflating diverse factors just muddies the water.

      Nonetheless, the basic point the author makes about honor cultures is important. But we shouldn’t let simplistic analyses be used to dismiss and ignore complex historical conditions, especially when it lets us off the hook of considering legacies of violent oppression. Dismissing people fighting for their freedom as problematic isn’t helpful. Yes, there is plenty of dysfunction to go around, even in trust/guilt societies. Much of the historical conditions of honor/shame societies were created and enforced by those trust guilt societies.

      This is where seeing the bigger picture is so important. It is the natural human condition to just blame the other guy. The real problem is systemic. Not just about this or that society, but about all societies, about the global society. There are few innocents in this world.

      • It’s a complicated thing that deserves a more in depth answer as to why such social values formed.

        An interesting question that has baffled the rest of the Western world is why is the US so anti-intellectual? On one hand, the US commands some of the best scientists, the most respected schools, on the other hand, the anti-science fervor is stronger in the US than any other Western society.

        This may be a case of the past culture being harmful today. Of course, that in turn demands we ask, what advantage did it bring? Or is it a result of “frontier” culture?

        I don’t entirely agree with the author on everything he writes. If you read his other works, he’s appears to be a liberal Christian and somewhat libertarian, although he writes an article objecting to strongly libertarian beliefs.

        But it’s one of the more interesting hypothesis that I have seen.

        • Anti-intellectualism has historically been found in honor cultures. I don’t know the exact relationship, other than honor cultures often are less settled and established societies. Honor cultures tend to have violent and socially disruptive pasts which doesn’t allow for a stable society to develop which would include such things as educational traditions.That still doesn’t explain the persistence of those cultural patterns, long after the original conditions have ended.

          I agree that it is an interesting hypothesis. There are several books on the topic of honor cultures. I own some related to American culture. I also have a book on trust cultures. I’ve written about this before in my blog, but I don’t recall the exact posts.

  2. I wonder what the US would be considered today? Even compared to say, Canada or Western Europe?

    It’s not so much there’s no anti-science sentiment here, it’s just that people who vouch for things like Creationism are mostly considered loonies and not taken seriously. Same with global warming. It’s just sad that we have governments totally at odds with what the people want.

    • We have a high inequality society. There are very wealthy and very poor Americans. Very educated intellectual Americans and very under-educated anti-intellectual Americans.

      Also, we have distinct regions of trust cultures and distinct regions of honor cultures. We are defined as much by our differences as by our similarities.

      We are a divided society, partly because we are a diverse society. There is no single America. This country is vast compared to most countries in the world, especially in Europe.

  3. Perhaps so.

    The question, is, what can be done about it? The anti-intellectuals.

    1. Such people are not open to facts. Empirical evidence on issues like the fact that the planet is warming due to human carbon emissions or that Suddam did not have WMDs is not likely to persuade them.

    2. The majority are not open to concepts such as the idea of racial equality. They never really accepted the idea that people of colored skin should be treated as equals compared to the white race. Some appear bitter about the outcome of the US Civil War.

    3. There is a general lack of critical thinking from that demographic. Education, science, evidence, and promoting higher thinking is looked upon with suspicion, if not downright hatred.

    4. Believers have a very high tolerance for cognitive dissonance. For example, usually they demand low taxes. At the same time, they demand things such as Medicare, and that they be given the most advanced medical care.

    But the problem is, for that to happen, things such as medical research need funding. Funding that they would have seen as a waste, as would money spent to train doctors.

    Naturally, such people do not see the hypocrisy. Either this is anti-social personality disorder on a cultural level, a failure to think, or some combination of the two.

    5. There is an obsession with self-victimization. The idea that devout people who are Christian, White, and middle class are victims of some sort of conspiracy to turn them into something else. Presumably that anger goes towards the idea of a secular society, democratic socialism, and racial tolerance.

    It is indeed true that they are being “screwed”, but they don’t seem to understand that it is not the minorities that are doing it, it is the very wealthy.

    6. Relating to this, they only trust a few news sources. Perhaps this will be of interest.

    It’s kind of scary, but people really are like this. They really believe that news channels like NBC are “liberal” (they are really corporate owned).

    The question is, how to change culture?

    • You are bringing up some issues I was thinking about recently, in other contexts. I thought about writing a post about it, but that would be too much work. I’ll set down here some of my basic thoughts on the matter.

      I have a strong pessimist tendency, both in the psychological and the philosophical sense. At times, I can be downright cynical. But I’m also strangely an optimistic person in ways that most people aren’t. I’m always looking at the big picture and I find it exciting what I see, the changes on the horizon, the shifts already occurring.

      Progress is generally a slow change, with occasional major disruptions. It is so slow as to be imperceptible most of the time, for our lives are so short and our personal experience so constrained. The only anecdote for this is historical knowledge and perspective.

      The changes that have happened these past centuries are immense. No one could have ever imagined what society has accomplished, even with all the ignoramuses and assholes dragging their feet.

      We complain about anti-intellectualism today, but it doesn’t even come close to the anti-intellectualism of even a few generations ago. Universal public education is less than a century old.

      In the early 20th century, adults were given the first IQ tests. The IQ keeps increasing with each generation and so the IQ test gets normed. But if you were to standardize the IQ tests across all generations without norming the results, That first generation of Americans tested would, by today’s standards, be considered retards. Those retards were our grandparents and great grandparents. They helped build this country and sent the following generations of their descendents off to college. Even the lowest IQ demographic today is smarter than the average American was in the past.

      What caused such a massive change? IQ tests aren’t measuring inherent intelligence. Rather, they are measuring thinking skills that are taught, specifically abstract thinking skills. Rationality and intellectuality is not possible without abstract thinking skills, but a few generations ago these skills were rare. Only the intellectual elite had such skills and now almost everyone has them.

      We accomplished that massive change, despite all the attacks on public education and our collective refusal to fully fund quality education. The public today is much less anti-intellectual and anti-scientific than it once was.

      This change doesn’t happen because a particular generation gets smarter. No, the older anti-intellectual generations remain that way. But the ensuing generations become ever more intelligent and ever more capable of rational thought. And then the older generations finally die.

      I’m Generation X. When I was a kid, I was taught to look for bullshit. In my 7th grade Home Ec class, my classmates and I were given an assignment. We were to look for an example of an advertisement that was deceptive and manipulative, and then explain why it was so. I found an ad for a “Faux Diamond Necklace”.

      Many people in my generation were taught this and many of the more recent generations as well. We have highly tuned bullshit detectors. The older generations were never taught this. Instead, the older generations were taught to trust authorities, including trusting media authorities. As this older generation has aged, they realized they were lied to and have become cynical, but at the same time they lack the ability to detect bullshit. They are in the dark and it scares them, rightly so.

      The younger generations are more trusting of science for the very reason they have been taught to not merely give blind trust. The younger generations have been taught to look for information upon which to base an opinion and because of the internet they have access to information, most importantly alternative views. So, they have a better ability to look at multiple sources and make a reasonable judgment.

      The older generations never grew up with so much information. They are used to forming opinions based on what they’ve been told, not based on what they themselves have studied. They don’t trust the internet because they lack the ability to sift the good from the bad. No one ever taught them how to do that.

      Those older generations are now retiring and dying. The more informed, more rational generations are replacing them, both in the private and public spheres. These changes aren’t immense in many ways. Because people live so much longer, this causes changes to be more slow than they would have in the past. The Boomers have held onto power longer than any generation in the entire history of humanity, but even Boomers can’t hold onto power forever. Their grip is already loosening.

      Who knows what the younger generations will accomplish? They are the most intelligent and most well educated generation ever in this country. As surveys show, the majority of them don’t hold anti-intellectual views toward science as do their elders.

      How we change culture is one generation at a time.

      • The question is, given the attacks on education, will it end up reversing this trend?

        Already we are seeing aggressive efforts to use standardized tests. As a proportion of anti-intellectuals, I agree, most people within my generation are not.

        I know in Canada, there has been some effort put into critical thinking. In the US, I am not so sure. Education quality seems to vary quite widely by state. Some states, particularly in the Northeast do well. Others though do not.

        Plus if you look at test scores (imperfect measure I know), the US does very poorly. Canada needs work too. I suspect though that for the US, the standard deviation must be huge compared to the rest of the world. Finland is generally considered the best education system around.

        There is one problem with your hypothesis though:

        – Logically, the boomers should have been smarter than their predecessors, who fought WWII.
        – The so called “greatest generation” *(overrated IMO) in turn should have been smarter than the “WWI generation”.
        – They in turn should have been smarter than the generations before them.

        The thing is, the people who managed the US from its founding to the end of WWII brought the US to its zenith, despite their mistakes.

        To be sure, there were other events that helped it. Europe’s missteps for example. Being on a large continent with lots of natural resources helps too. Also, the US enjoyed lots of immigration from Europe, particularly after WWII when many of the scientists left for the US.

        But despite this, when the Baby Boom generation took over, they voted in Reagan. To be sure, the Baby Boom generation saw a lot of positive change too, and set things in motion for other changes down the line still happening today.

        Baby Boom policy makers have managed appallingly to squander the US advantage at the end of the Cold War and leave us in the current mess.

        And yet, despite all of this, the Boomer generation is very conservative in general in its voting patterns. At the same time, polls show Boomers as a whole are more resistant to things like environmentalism.

        The issue I see is that the stakes are now even higher. The US no longer is likely to remain superpower, mostly due to self-inflicted problems, if not entirely. There are problems like global warming which could really, really be problematic down the line.

        • “There is one problem with your hypothesis though”

          Not really a problem. In terms of IQ tests, the later generations were smarter than the earlier ones.

          However, there are many kinds of intelligences and abilities. A low IQ person could be hardworking, insightful, creative, inventive, entrepreneurial, and have great people skills. Abstract thought by itself only goes so far.

          Also, there are many social conditions that help thwart or manifest various forms of intelligence. What is rewarded or punished, what is privileged or denied will determine so much. There are other subtler environmental factors that have an impact as well.

          Take mass media, for example. Even as people’s IQs increased with abstract thinking skills, their ability to think independently was suppressed. This was exacerbated by the oppressive conformity of the Cold War. Such oppressive conformity had never before existed to such an extent in all of American history, although it definitely took hold during WWI.

          Boomers did take a lot for granted. They were the product of strange times. They simply internalized and expressed the dysfunction they were raised in. It has little to do with intelligence in the basic sense.

          That is why we must turn to new generations. The younger demographic was not only taught independent thought, has higher IQs, and is more well educated. They also have never known the Cold War. Even the War on Terror doesn’t compare, for the mass media doesn’t have the control it once had. The youth have grown up with alternative media, unlike any generation before.

          Change is coming in the world with the US losing its geopolitical standing and environmental catastrophes threatening. But the population is changing at the same time. It will be up to the coming generations to deal with it all. The Boomers will be dead or senile by the time the worst of it hits.

          • The problem is the damage is pretty deep indeed.

            Inequality for example is approaching the status of a developing nation, not a developed one.

            Some of the problems ironically may come back to bite the Baby Boom generation early on. It has been suggested that this may be they may be the first generation that has a shorter life expectancy and is in worse health than the previous generations. This is due to the economy, but also due other factors such as obesity.

            Peak oil? The global warming crisis? Those could be really big problems that limit available resources for the future.

            I am sure the financial position of the US will also be far worse, limiting available funds. Compounding this problem, it’s unlikely for the next couple of decades that there will be any major investments in infrastructure.

            There is a very serious chance of the US dollar facing a major devaluation too down the line as the US begins to lose its superpower status. That in turn could mean the loss of reserve currency status, and the privileges it brings, although I am not sure of what would supplant it.

            The overwhelming majority of my generation, generation Y is quite left wing (at least by American standards). I just hope changes can be made before problems get worse.

  4. Another issue is that they have become more insular. At the core, they believed in American exceptionalism.

    There are several factors at stake here.

    I think that it’s important to remember that many of the anti-intellectuals are older people who grew up when the US was at its peak, in the aftermath of WWII. They must have viewed America being the world’s superpower as their birthright. To them, the US could do no wrong, WASPs were superior, and they had what amounted to a mandate from Jesus to do what they did.

    Slowly, layer by layer, this has proven to be false indeed.

    I have noticed that there has been an increase in the attacks on minorities (verbally). I think that watching things like Obama ascend or the economic success of certain minorities has made them uncomfortable, particularly when their ideology is about “White American Exceptionalism”.

    Some seem to try to rationalize it away. The birther conspiracy theories are probably the result of people that NEED to believe that Obama is not American. Others I think fear the truth.

    The declining economy (which never really recovered from 2008 for most) is by far the biggest issue right now. That has left many in this camp bitter and insecure. Because they mostly do not blame Wall Street or the corporations for their problems, I presume this means a scapegoat of sorts is needed.

    At the same time, they cannot understand the world hating the US government. On paper, they are libertarians. In practice, they seem to be more authoritarian than anything else.

    For that reason, ideas such as the Iraq War being mostly for greed and oil, that Suddam had nothing to do with 9-11 or did not have WMDs is not open to discussion.

    They also see left wing ideas like social democracy to be a threat. They cannot admit the idea that a social democracy might lead to a better standard of living. I have noticed that whenever an American conservative is shown the statistics comparing the US to say, northern Europe, they get all mad. They have no way to disprove the numbers and insist it is something else.

    For a similar reason, they cannot admit to global warming. Doing so is tantamount to admitting that neoliberalism and free market capitalism do not always lead to the best outcome for society.

    To them, the world is falling apart. They must see the US as run by blacks and liberals, which they hold in utter contempt. This is not true, but they want to, perhaps need to believe in the lie.

    It may be why things like Fox News have become popular. Combine inability to think critically with the fact their despair and well, Fox News is popular because it says the lies they want to hear.

    • You might find interesting a comment made on another post of mine. The guy used to comment on my blog regularly, but I haven’t seen him in a while. He is an older American and he was explaining his generational experience:

      “I’m 65, and I remember age 12 fondly as a time of peace and optimism. You get into a lot here, and miss a lot as well. First things first. Part of the reason the baby boomers screwed things up was the events of the 1960s starting with the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. This wasn’t supposed to happen, it was unthinkable when it happened. and I think many of us are still processing it to this day. This was followed by Viet Nam and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the election of Richard Nixon, Kent State, and ultimately Watergate. I think the baby boomers collectively gave up after Kent State, and decided fighting for what’s right or for change just isn’t worth it, and change won’t happen anyway, it only makes things worse. Reagan didn’t happen in a vacuum. By 1980 people were tired of the previous 15 yrs and Reagan promised to take us back to the way things were. Of course that was impossible.
      The other thing you miss are the social changes that happened from the mid-60s on, and this includes changes in education. The civil rights movement was first, followed by the feminists, then the sexual revolution and gay rights. All of these would exert a profound impact on public education. Things that we never had to deal with, like sexuality, were suddenly thrust in kids’ faces. Naomi Wolfe, the feminist writer, has said this stating that kids were suddenly forced to deal with things that adults had difficulty with, and she deplores it. And lastly, mom wasn’t there when kids got home from school anymore.”

    • “I have noticed that there has been an increase in the attacks on minorities (verbally)”

      A weakened, injured, cornered animal will growl and bark loudly. It will act vicious and the threat is real. But it is a short term threat. The animal is holding its ground out of fear, backed into a corner as a last ditch defense against perceived enemies.

      Still, it can only last so long before it weakens so much that it doesn’t even have the energy to bite and eventually it will die of its wounds. Until then, it will be the loudest thing around and it will put on the best show it can. The Tea Party was one of the last growls to be made by this wounded beast. It may never again be able take such action again. That was a one time event of an already lost battle.

      The old guard is retreating from the battlefield, even as they set the land mines as they go. It will take us a while to dig those land mines back up again without too many people getting hurt in the process. But we are taking the field and that is a victory to be celebrated, even if it seems like too little too late. We have to take what we can get.

      A new generation will have to clean up the mess. It is sad that those who caused the problems aren’t the ones who must deal with them. But that is how it always is.

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