This post is a bit more philosophical than most, and probably reflects watching too much political commentary this week. I will get back to our usual topics tomorrow.
One of the things I learned while writing my book on differentiated instruction was that there are many pathways towards the same goal. It’s one of the the things that makes certain reality shows, like Top Chef or Project Runway so fascinating- everyone has the same assignment, the same goal, but their pathways and ideas taking them to the endpoint are very different.
In our current political climate, we see a clash of ideas all intending, I hope, to take us to a future where many more Americans will find a way to live comfortably and be happy. The definition of comfortable and happy differ, of course, as do the pathway to achieve these goals, but I think we’d all get along a lot better if we could agree on some common goals. I hope these goals would include:
- A country where most people can make a living wage at one job, rather than having to piece together two or three part time jobs to make ends meet;
- A country where we can work hard, but also have time to enjoy the fruits of our labors with friends and family before we get too old and banged up to do so;
- A country where we all share part of the burden to make sure the least able and most vulnerable members of our society are cared for and treated with kindness, whether we’re talking about children, the elderly or disabled;
- A country where our politicians are more concerned about the people they represent than their own personal star power and ambitions;
- A country where our government, both federal and local, sets reasonable parameters for behavior- enforcing laws and regulations that are designed to ensure good stewardship of our shared resources like roads, bridges, parks, water, and air, while also making sure we all obey the social contract issues like road rules, respect of each other’s property and freedoms and the like;
- A country where we are as concerned with the long term impact of our decisions as we are for the short term. election cycle results.
We can argue ad nauseam about which side in the political dichotomy has the best idea on how to make things better. In the end, I think the great majority of us sit in the middle and just want a place where we all are a bit kinder to each other; where schools give our children a great foundation to pursue their own talents and ideas; a place where we all feel we are treated fairly and contribute to the success of our Country as a whole, alongside our own success. I know our personal success comes in part from the advantages we’ve received growing up in this Country, and I feel I have a responsibility to my children and all their peers to give them a similar set of tools they can use to paint their own futures, as free from encumbrances as possible.
If we can begin to focus on what we all agree on, and less on how to kill the other guy by a a series of a thousand small cuts, the more likely it is that we can succeed.
At TEDx Wilmington, a terrific philosophy professor spoke about how all the religions seek to have us rise above and transcend the petty daily issues, and the objectification of outsiders as heathens and unworthy, but instead find ways to literally love those that are different from us and find ways to bring peace and prosperity to everyone, regardless of their individual beliefs. Yes, this means we have to leave final judgment to our individual deities- we have to give up the notion that our beliefs are so right and sacrosanct that we have to shove them down the throats of others who believe just as strongly in their own versions of ultimate truth. As long as we are so determined to divide ourselves into US vs THEM, locally and internationally, we lose what we win by acting in concert.
As Lincoln stated, a house divided against itself cannot stand. As long as we work to disenfranchise each other, bit by bit, the weaker we all become in the long run.
Back to the regular blog stuff tomorrow.