I fear that our current generation is being raised with sound and sight bits that allow no penetrating knowledge or basis for criticism of said bits thrust at one with a too often “both sides” claim to truth. However, what really gets to me is the ‘trade mark’ identities of those so mis-educated.

My own learning experience was so different and has allowed me over a lifetime to choose what I wanted to be and do and also to understand a broad range of persons and cultures. By chance I grew up in the country with our nearest neighbor 1/4 of a mile away. My family had inherited a vast library from my academic grand parents for me to explore and my mother was also a great reader who kept our home full of the latest things. Reading was my pleasure. When I moved on as an exchange student to Britain as a teen, I was already steeped in British culture and curious to explore the other national cultures which I further encountered — France, Germany, whatever.

I am horrified, thus, by today’s mind destroying approach to kids with knowledge inflicted through stupid testing programs that both handicap teachers and make learning a threatening and boring horror. No wonder that experience — both good and bad (e.g. those near porn pictures of themselves sent out into the world by sub teens imitating ads, etc.) — now brings the main excitement to their lives.

David Riesman (The Lonely Crowd, 1950) drew a distinction between 3 types of persons being produced by our culture: tradition directed, inner directed and other directed. He saw our society in transition towards the last category — a sterile imperative to imitate the popular ones — a terrible loss of individuality and the freedom to be a unique person. I watched the deadening impact grow on my college students over the decades.

May we somehow manage to break the hold on us of our commercial cultural gangsters who dominate us with their trash. If not, we will be endangered by all the evils promoted by them — from torture to our killing others for dubious reasons.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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