boo! I'm a geek!
I had a thought last night that I've had before - or at least, that I've had pieces of before.
The average American is scared to death of intelligence. Scared to look intelligent, and scared to be around people who are intelligent.
This creates all sorts of interesting defense mechanisms that range in severity from picking on smart kids in school to damning our country to non-hegemony real soon. Let me explain that last range on the scale a little bit.
We are the number one country in the world in just about everything - but something we're not number one in (not even close) is education. We don't want to be. We invent all sorts of stupid rationalizations as to why we don't need to be.
And then, when other countries get close to catching up to us in some regard besides education (where most countries have far surpassed us) we bitch and moan and do everything we can to stay on top. Even if that means abusing our current status to make sure it's our future status. We're the biggest hypocrits the world has seen - we've tasted of the Tree of Life and now we want the fruit without the labor. We preach democracy, meritocracy, and hard work as the pathes to success. We scold other nations for having low literacy rates, and rub their low quality of life into their faces, while pointing to what we have as if it's some kind of goal. Lazy, fat, loud, and stupid is a goal!? Since when?
In another example of stunning hypocrisy, we praise capitalism until we're blue in the face... we even elect a president that believes in giving free rein to companies like Enron, because that's supposedly American. And then we make a stink when jobs get exported and our second-rate merchandise doesn't? What does that say about us? How old does that make us look? I'm sorry, but last time I checked the school bully was the kid on the playground forcing everyone else to play to his rules, which also just so happened to favor him. I don't want to sound un-American... believe me, I think this country is the best thing this world has ever created. But we need to wake the fuck up. We can't talk about work ethic, education, and competition in the marketplace, and then cry when other countries listen.
Think about the things we do in our everyday lives... think about the last time you saw someone being praised for their intelligence. Think about the last time you heard someone use the words "intelligent" and "politician" in the same sentence (disclaimer: it can't be another politician doing the talking). Sure, we've still got "crafty" people... we still praise "clever" people... we still respect "cunning." But what do these words mean in the modern day lexicon? They mean that you used your intelligence to fuck someone else over. Is that the kind of quality we want to pass on to our kids? Is that the example of democracy and capitalism we want to show the world? Are we proud of the fact that more and more these days our headlines are featuring corrupt CEOs and slimy politicians? The news is a whole other issue - they intentionally write the news on a 6th grade reading level to reach the "broadest" market! That says a great deal about the average American... "Hi, my name is John Q. American, and I can barely read! Please trust me to run the world!"
In the last election (and the one before it), Americans often said that they voted for this current genius of a president because they felt he was an everday kind of guy - a guy they could relate to. That's fucking great. You know what I want in a president? Someone smarter than me! Someone that I can't relate to because he's so fucking smart. I want him to be a good guy of integrity, sure... and I think he should represent the American public... that doesn't mean he has to be an example of the American average. Holy fuck people - this mean is leading the free world. The presidency has often been called the most important job in the world. In the whole Goddamned world! And we pick someone that can barely pass Yale when they're not even giving failing grades!?
Here's some more areas that we promote dumbness in.
School - when was the last time you gave a shit about what grades your kid got ("aha!" you're thinking... "I've got you now... I do care what grades my kid gets!" ... yeah... keep reading, Bud)?
Ok, I'm sure most people with kids would answer that they always care what grades their kids make in school. Now how about this - when was the last time you found out what your kid learned? Not so fast to answer that one, I'm betting. We all want our offspring to make good grades - that's how they get into good colleges and get good jobs making good money so that they can support us later on (that's the dream, right?). But we're fifty times more excited about our kid's sports team or other extracurricular activity than we are about their education. Guess what people... extracurricular means that it's not the priority. In fact, it's the luxury. It's what we get as a reward for our ancestors working so hard. And there's definitely nothing wrong with making your descendants lives better - it's admirable in fact. But remember that old saying that your mom used to (hopefully) tell you - "There's always room for improvement." ??? That still holds true. Just because we've worked our way to the top of the nation dog-pile ... just because we have no more real threats as far as world powers go (besides China... but no one wants to face that) ... just because we've hit a high point doesn't mean we get to coast the rest of the way.
How about this (this post is gonna jump around like this, sorry) - we have educational TV shows like "Bill Nye the Science Guy" - that's good, right? But wait... we don't have that show anymore. And that was probably the "coolest" science show for kids available. Which is kind of sad in and of itself... before we can expect our children to watch a show about science, we have to make it "cool." And even then, it dies. How awesome. And, trust me, it's not because "science just isn't cool" or any other bullshit reasoning people love to give. It's because parents tell their kids bullshit like "science just isn't cool." But hey, as long as it's mostly make-believe science, that serves the purpose of making us feel better about our shitty Justice system, it's prime time entertainment (here's looking at you CSI - I love ya, but I also know you're not accurate).
Why is it considered just a normal part of the educational system for nerds to get picked on? Why do we have terms like nerds and dorks, geeks and dweebs? How many derogatory ways can you think of to say "physically fit?" Not to say that being physicall fit isn't important - but is it the most important life skill we can teach? What does that say about a student's job possibilities after graduation? "You better build some muscle Billy, you're really gonna need it when you get out into the job market..." ... "When I go to work as a Computer Scientist, Daddy?" ... "HAHAHA, you're funny Billy... but seriously, you don't know shit about computers, stop being a damned dweeb! Is that what you want!? To be a dweeb!? Of course not... you're gonna be a (insert manual labor type job here) like your ol' man!" And don't read this as me saying that all manuel laborers are stupid, or that those jobs don't have honor. That isn't what this is about - it's about the future. What we want for our kids, and for their kids. Did you want to be called a "dork" in school? Hell no... you wanted to be "cool." Well it's about damned time that we realize what is "cool" is being the dork. When we truly believe that, and it actually shows in our attitudes - then we can expect our kids to behave the same way.
Do we love our comfortable lifestyle so much that we're not willing to break a sweat to keep it? Cuz plenty of other countries are... and they're busting their asses right now trying to make it happen. Trust me, Indian workers would be more than thrilled to be our doctors and computer programmers, and Chinese workers are more than happy to be our teachers and researchers, while every other nation is happy to take any job they can get in America, the land of opportunity. They are "Stealing" our jobs - they're working harder to get them. Stop the bitching, and start hitting the books, and maybe America can be the country it was in 1950, a world leader, and an example of something good. We ahve to do it ourselves, we have to make it a priority - the priority. Because when the other countries catch up to where we are now, they won't feel as if they owe us shit - and they won't be giving away free handouts of "the good life" to keep us satisfied.
That's all I got for now - but this is something that I know will continue to irk me, and therefore, probably continue to receive my attention on this blog.