This post is going to be partly a rant, slightly political and general observations by me, A.C. Liddle.
I will start with this…how much lower can our expectations as a society be set? At what point in the bar on the ground?
In my humble opinion we have, as a society, have come to expect less and less from our children, our local/state/national governments and ourselves. This is nothing new, as throughout history there have been times of complacency and apathy which in due time civilized communities broke out with revolution of some type.
It is hard to constantly hold high standards and to fight against the overwhelming negative things that happen in the world. Keeping a smile on one’s face when things seem hopeless is tough. It takes strong leaders–not necessarily public figures which everyone sees and knows but personal, individuals, in local communities–to march against the tide of apathy and low standards.
At the moment it appears these strong leaders are sorely lacking in the public realm, but as I stated, finding them in the everyday encounters in our communities is still possible. Who are these people we are looking for? Ones who encourages those around them. Encouragement can come in the form of simply smiling, saying hello, sincerely asking how someone (even a stranger) is doing. Complimenting someone their hair, a particularly nice piece of wardrobe, complimenting someone on a good job they did, the working they are currently doing. Besides words, actions are important. Promoting and volunteering at community functions. Soup kitchens, donation centers, homeless shelters. Also artistic functions. Art exhibits, Art in the Park, Auditions for Community Theaters or if one doesn’t feel they have the talent, going to the Productions of those theaters.
With the Holidays coming up there are loads of opportunities to get out and help the community and promote community actions which uplift everyone.
Fear, anger, hatred have dragged us all down for too long. When President Theodore Roosevelt stated famously, “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” He wasn’t talking about everyday fears of heights, spiders and small spaces. He was speaking, again this is my opinion, of keeping in check the general fears and anxieties of a society. Worrying over tomorrow is a waste. Live in the present. As hard as that is at times this is the only way to fight the tide of fear.
One great example is this fear, particularly in America about North Korea. The current situation should be taken seriously. At the same time we buy into sensationalism. Soon the problem is so overblown we can’t see it for the molehill it actually is. The following quote may not reflect every South Koreans’ view but I believe it is still telling:
She is a citizen of South Korea and is not too concerned about what Mr. North Korea is doing. She goes about her everyday routine without fearing and thinking, “Hey a bomb is going to drop on my country today.” At this moment it is probably as likely she will be hit by the bus she was supposed to get on for work.
Yet, here in the U.S. we are screaming “Fire!!” about this situation.
Getting to this point of apathy, fear and low standards didn’t happen overnight. Fixing it won’t happen overnight either. However, we need to start. We need to uplift the community at large and find the Strong Leaders which will help us move past the fear of this moment and into a positive, productive tomorrow.
When I was a kid I tested above average on Standardized Testing. I was put into a “Gifted” Program which I was fortunate my school district even had. Yet, I felt punished for being in the program. My peers punished me. Teachers tried to encourage me, I was called teacher’s pet. Adults became my friends because I couldn’t connect with my own age group. Finally in high school (forgive the language) I got to the point I said, “Fuck them.” I was going to be who I wanted to be, do what I wanted to do, forget whatever the said. Luckily I was able to stay in school and was able to get my diploma. My brother was not so lucky.
He is incredibly smart as well. He is roughly five years younger than me and by the time he was going through school, even the teachers and adults had turned on the students who were “average.” He was once made in about fourth grade to get up in front of the class and apologize for missing so much school and still passing all the tests and getting to go on to the next grade. I said made, because the administration threatened to hold him back if he didn’t apologize. He had to apologize for being sick (which was anxiety caused by being constantly bullied at school) and being smart enough to still learn outside of the classroom, do his homework and pass the tests. When he got to high school he was still having issues and he dared to challenge some of the teachers who he was, quite frankly, smarter than. They were mad because he was again, missing school but could still passing the tests. Part of the reason he could pass the tests is because he might miss up to three weeks and when he got back the class was still on the same chapter as they were when they left. These were basic classes. One teacher in particular was upset with him and one of the days my brother missed this teacher openly in front of the entire class made fun of my brother. The principal did nothing.
Is it any wonder his version of “Fuck them.” was to drop out and then later get his GED?
Another example when I was in high school, was the time a Freshman Biology Teacher was going to Flunk a football player. This football player was on the Freshman team. Not even one of the starters on the Freshman team. The Principal overruled the teacher and informed her she was wrong and had to pass this student so he could play.
This are only some of the examples–my personal experiences–with the lowering of standards in our education system which is also a reflection of the society lowering standards.
“No Child Left Behind” happened and children being with their own age group (which by the way was the reason my mom didn’t agree to skip me a grade was it was offered, because I needed to be with my “own age group”) became more important than them knowing their ABC’s and 123’s. News flash all children not only learn at different speeds but they also emotional mature different than others. See above where adults became my best friends.
“No Child Left Behind” came after this idea of “drinking a beer” with a Presidential candidate was important. Why? Why do I want to drink a beer with my President? I don’t care if he is my friend. I want him to be intelligent and knowledgeable. I want him to be able to understand when his foreign intelligences tells him Iraqi Guards are on the move in the barely stable region of the Middle East and what those moves could mean. Hell, I want him to be able to find Iraq on a map without someone pointing it out to him. I also would like to say while I use the term “him” a woman would need/should be as capable.
In other words, I don’t really give a damn if he is likeable. Actually the fact he/she is running for President and/or has held other public offices, tells me there is some degree of likability or they wouldn’t have made it in our political system of personalities, name recognition, and beauty pageantisque competition.
So our standards sink lower. Pessimism and fear rule the day. Longing for a Rapture, a return of a God, is a driving force now. Longing for a “Golden Age” which never existed or only existed if you were a white, land owning, man, is a driving force now.
People hate change. People hate things which challenge their long held belief systems. It makes them uncertain and scared, fearful. At one time these people who would pull us into the belief of everything is best if nothing changes, who don’t see a bright future or even really believe in happiness at the current moment, who would have us be fearful of knowledge, science and facts, those people used to be on the margins.
Not any more. Lowering standards, slipping into an apathetic state and buying into sensationalism and surface looks have made this cancer grow.
I refuse to follow. I refuse to lower my standards, my expectations of myself and others. There will be times where I am disappointed in myself in those around me. Yet, I can get over the disappointment to learn something from the experience and help others learn as well. I refuse to be caught up in fear, in the “what ifs?” Practicing mindfulness, living in the present moment, looking forward to a better day tomorrow. The Best is Yet to Come is a slogan…I can’t remember exactly for what, but it is somewhat true.
The Best is now and is also yet to come. The Best can be everyday, if you consciously choose to make it so. When someone says “I give up,” “It is too hard,” “I am not smart enough,” “It isn’t worth the effort,” challenge those ideas even more. Help uplift people, help those who are challenged see how much raising standards, shooting for the Moon, shooting past the Moon, can affect not only individual lives and this present moment, but the entire society and the future.