Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Life is about change

I have a couple of key philosophies to life. They might seem so basic as to wonder why I'd mention them but both apply to this series. The first is that change is inevitable and constant. Sometimes we welcome that change and sometimes find it threatening-- but it will always come.

So I understand things don't stay the same not even those things I like. Sometimes we fight change and that is how I feel when I see a certain group in the United States trying to end our public education system. It's not Constitutional, dontchaknow.

This attack on public education is partisan because the proponents almost always identify themselves as Republicans or maybe now Tea Partiers (who knows for sure what tea partiers stand for as a group) Basically, whatever political label the naysayers about education claim, to them, public education is of no value, costs money, and worse threatens their beliefs.

If education, in any culture, is downgraded to an option, downgraded to something that even becomes threatening, where does that leave the populace? Try uneducated, easily led, incapable of applying history and science to their decision making. It can lead to a group who vote for elected officials as they would on a reality television show and put more thought and emotion into the reality show.

What happens when people live in a world where they are seemingly removed from nature's absolutes, a world where they believe they have the right to teach their children anything and there are no facts, no basic truths to learn beyond what the parents want taught. What if the parental truth denies the physical world for a spiritual one that cannot be seen, where does that lead the culture in which they live-- especially if those people vote?

This dismissal of facts and logic is showing up in a part of our culture where we have a whole group of people who cannot spell, write a sentence, or communicate beyond a few letters strung together that are supposed to be just as good as learning to parse a sentence. Yes, I mean Sarah Palin with her missives from Facebook and Twitter that cable (both sides) throw at us as something worthy to read... if we can... Whatever she says, a whole bunch of people hang on it as they do Glenn Beck's revisionist history lessons.

What happens when this also occurs in science. When science's value is argued as though it doesn't matter what the facts are (except maybe with the Law of Gravity) and their god can overrule any mistakes they might make, when they want religious lessons to be taught alongside the facts of scientific evidence, tell me where that ends?

This is why even though one might not think so, the study of evolution is important. Understanding evolution is understanding that life is about change. It is about more than the past and it impacts many other areas of life.

When I drive south in Oregon, along the freeway is a big billboard showing photos of men and then after several of those, a photo of a chimpanzee and it says don't let them make a monkey out of you with a website to apparently avoid that risk of turning into monkeys.

If you do any research online regarding creationism, you will find websites putting down all the various fossils or bones that have been used to prove evolution, denying DNA has any meaning, claiming the earth is really quite young, and always with the end statements witnessing to that particular religion and how to be saved. When you read one of those sites, they always claim that anybody believing in evolution wants to do bad things or is a fool. They use their own holy texts to make their points.

The essence of physical life on earth is change. That's the most basic part of what we see everywhere but for religious reasons a lot of people deny that and not based on facts but on needing to prove their own truths can be trusted. There is no freedom to use logic, reason or even facts, if you have already made up your mind what you believe.

Because man doesn't live very long, he doesn't often see change in the rocks, the landscape, not often the other species of animals living near him; but he can see it in his own life if he's willing to look. We start out a baby, work our way through various stages of growth until we reach old age and the end of our days. Is that threatening? Well it is because then most in religions have had to come up with an alternative to death-- they don't really die. They get resurrected. Their god was resurrected bodily which I guess means he got trapped in a human type body until a future date to release him or is that trapped forever?

What some religious people perceive as fact regarding their physical bodies actually isn't because with faith they will be coming back with a perfected body... or end up in heaven with 70 virgins. Logic and facts are not only no part of this but they are threats to it. The teaching of evolution is a threat to it and there is a reason for that.

The photo at the top is me at 12 years old when I was geeky and not really ready for the changes coming in my life but they were coming anyway. Within a few years I had figured out a lot of it or so I thought...


Annie said...

Hi Rain, this isn't exactly on topic but I just ran across this poem on the Whiskey River blog (http://whiskeyriver.blogspot.com - worth a read!) and thought you might like it. According to the blog, author is unknown.

You learn.
After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
and you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises,
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
and you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure.
That you really are strong.
And you really do have worth.
And you learn. And learn.
With every good-bye you learn.

- http://whiskeyriver.blogspot.com/2010/12/you-learn-you-learn.html

Paul said...

Rain I am all for education that actually educates the student - not for rewarding teachers who are poor or incompetent or have seniority yet cannot teach. And yes, there are many fine educators out there. Reward them and find more like them. And parents take part in your child's education. Don't expect the school and the teachers to do it all.

Anonymous said...

JULIE said:

Enjoying this series of posts. Stretching my mind a little. I appreciate the the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Men love to wonder and that is the seed of science".

BTW, that is a darling picture of you from your school days.

Rain said...

I like that poem, Annie, and I think it is quite apropos. I had read it before but it's a great reminder about life and the lessons in it.

The quote you added is good also, Julie. Actually everybody who added quotes on science and thinking added a lot to that whole discussion.

That is what I see these all as-- discussions where I start it but it is picked up by others who might agree or disagree.

TaraDharma said...

My older daughter is pursuing a teaching credential, and she wants to teach at the junior high school level - bless her. Teachers are this nation's unsung heroes, and very poorly compensated. It is a calling.

An ignorant citizenry is just what big corps want -- easier for them to get their way and steam roll over a supposed democracy. I'm going nuts about this stuff. Your posts tell it like it is. Keep it up!

mandt said...

Two points of view from a former teacher:

##"Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.
Bertrand A. Russell (1872-1970)

##The only real education comes from what goes counter to you.
Andre Gide (1869-1951)
peace, m

Ingineer66 said...

I do not think it was a new life form, but a "newly discovered" life form. It has been around, we just didn't know about it yet.

Kind of like when we thought an atom was the smallest form of matter and then we split one open and bunch of other crap came out.

So no I do not think it means anything about whether God exists or not. It just proves that we do not know everything that there is to know.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I have to chuckle when I see comment's like Paul's about rewarding teacher merit based on performance... how many teachers do you think want to be penalized for teaching in low-income and poverty-level school districts; you know, the ones were they don't have a middle-class stay-at-home mom to support their child at home with learning?

I am at a point now where I want to give up fighting the ignorance in this country. China and India certainly don't teach creationism to their students. They are building universities at breakneck speed. It is estimated that there are more graduate students in China today then TOTAL students in the US.

We think we can remain a world power based on our past reputation as innovators and thinkers. Sorry, reputation alone will not sustain us or move us forward. We seem to be fated to learn things the hard way.

Ingineer66 said...

Don't worry Robert we are graduating way more lawyers than China and India combined. So we will sue the pants off of all of them when they sell us defective crap. Slightly tongue in cheek there.

Parapluie said...

How we measure time has changed during history. The first accurate mechanical clocks were invented during the Middle Ages. Thus Westerners developed uniform measures of time. Jews, as in ages before Western clocks, measure a day from sunset to sunset with 12 hours of night and 12 hours of day. Of course Jewish hours are not a fixed length of time. In winter night hours are longer and the day hours are shorter. On December 21st the shortest hours can be around just 44.23 minutes in Oregon.
Knowing this point of history is important in my own view of creation. Taking the Bible literally by today's Western measure of time is clearly a mistake.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Extremely thought provoking post, Rain. The whole public school thing is disturbing, but some of your commenters make very good points pro and con. I am a product of public education through an M.A. degree and I'm no rocket scientist, but I think I did OK.

But--I work for an esteemed private school and there is no comparison between it and most area public schools. The sad part is that private schools are not financially accessible to most people, even with a financial aid package.

I love the poem Annie posted. By the way, is the little girl at the top of the post little Rain?

Rain said...

It would be interesting to see a comparison as to why private schools can often offer more, some might be paying lower salaries to their staff? and not have such an expensive retirement system? I am not experienced in this area though and don't really know. I do know public schools are being squeezed for money and having larger and larger class sizes which never helps. The no-child-left-behind debacle is no help either as teachers are forced to spend time teaching how to take tests instead of teaching how to learn. I don't know if private schools have to deal with that. Your point though, Fran, is a good one. Only people with more money can really afford to send their children to schools like that.

There is a video out, which I have not seen, that makes a point that charter schools far out excel public but then others have been bringing different facts to the table where they point out some is the districts where they are and charter schools do not uniformly outproduce public schools.

It is a big concern though because the goal should be to see all children receive quality educations. When I was in teacher ed classes 40 years ago, we spent part of our time in schools across Portland, the schools chosen to show the difference wealth made on the schools. Now these were all in the same district for taxes but the neighborhoods varied from lower income, to middle income, to well off. That many years ago it was not uniform for the education kids got which I understand when it's different towns but within the same city, that just seemed wrong.

Darlene said...

I'm with you, Rain, on this post. I agree with everything you said. Good insight.

mandt said...

The subject of private ( called prep-schools in my day) education is a very interesting topic itself. Fran is absolutely on spot about the differentials between private and public. I am the only member of my family to have attended public schools ( by choice, because back then America had first rate, world class educational systems paid for by tax levies---particularly in the suburbs.) One of the problems developing a loose confederation of expensive private schools, however, is the trend for authoritarian privilege---particularly with religious institutions.My brothers who attended private Catholic schools and colleges are now-a-days rabid neo-con Republicans. I consider it my duty to humanity to be a recompense in the karma of these matters. lol

Infidel753 said...

Perhaps we should be looking at how the countries that do a better job of education -- Japan, Germany, South Korea, etc. -- manage to do it.

I suspect money is a big part of the problem. The low average academic performance in the US conceals a vast range of good to bad. We have some excellent schools here. But this is the only major country where education is mostly locally funded -- richer areas can afford better schools, poorer areas are stuck with much more limited ones.

along the freeway is a big billboard showing photos of men and then after several of those, a photo of a chimpanzee and it says don't let them make a monkey out of you

I've seen that billboard. That's another advantage the other advanced nations have -- they don't have a vociferous mass of people who want ancient mythology taught in science classes alongside evolution (well, western Europe has Muslims who do agitate for that, but they're not nearly as numerous or influential as our Christian Right).

Never mind people who can't spell, why is it that people who don't even know the difference between a chimpanzee and a monkey can try to argue about evolution without being laughed off the stage?