Occupy Chapman

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Teachers: Leave Us Kids Alone

 Broken down to its simplest elements, education is nothing more than a  prolonged series of questions and answers. Until one begins to ask  questions, they will never receive answers. As a result, they will never  have the opportunity to learn.

Therefore, as educators, we must instill curiosity, not intelligence; as  students, we must remain wondering. Without curiosity, and the ability  to satisfy it, we will perpetually exist as consumers instead of producers.  It is our ability to produce that once made us a great nation—the  automobile, the space shuttle, Hollywood movies, fast food. But our  ability to self-sustain has withered with our desire to wonder,  jeopardizing our way of life.

Of course, our formal educational systems must provide the tools necessary to enable learning, but we believe that education is not an export unique to traditional schooling systems. Grading systems have become politicized at the hands of hapless bureaucrats, relegating education to a process of conformity. We believe that education is not solely accumulated in the classroom, but through a series of life experiences. Education is best borne out of necessity.

When people first started to settle in the Midwest, one rancher faced the problem of keeping his cattle from wandering off of the property. So he created a fence with sharp barbs in order to contain the cattle. This eventually gave berth barbed wire.

Unfortunately, we are currently restricted by a mental barbed wire. And we must hop the fence.

A Treatise on Modern Discontent

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands,” the 99% must take to the streets and to the Tweets.

It seems like we have reached a great precipice in human history.  In the past couple of years we have witnessed revolts in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Bahrain just to name a few.

Someone asked me the other day: “What’s that country where all the people are revolting?”

“Throw a dart at a map,” I said.

In the United States, the seeds of discontent have flourished in the forms of protests, sit-ins and live-ins.  We now refer to this grassroots movement as Occupy Wall Street, but the protests have spread to Chicago, Nashville, Denver, Washington D.C., and “the hood.”  (And of course, Chapman.)

Since armed rebels haven’t run amok on Wall Street, it may seem slightly hyperbolic to compare the United States to Libya and Iran.  But despite the glaringly obvious differences between these countries, they share a common yearning for institutional reform.  We share their spirit.

Some try to discredit the Occupy movement as a group of societal misfits who trumpet a muddled message.  The criticism comes mostly from those who say we’re uninformed and apathetic.  The Occupy protests prove that this generation cares about civic participation and the welfare of the country.

As for a message? You don’t need a campaign platform to understand that this country is fucked up.  Instead of chasing the American Dream, we now chase American Survival…Human Survival.  We want a better quality of life.

If you asked a protestor what they wanted, they would probably say: a job.  At the bare minimum, they would want their three jobs to generate enough income to pay their bills.  Sometimes there’s beauty in the simplicity of the message.

This is a Howard Beale moment.  We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!

Postscript: I can’t ignore the irony of the quote I used to start this treatise.  In 2011, the quote’s author, Thomas Jefferson, would likely be characterized as what call a one-percenter.  Don’t get me wrong!  I love me some Jefferson.  I’m all about that Louisiana Purchase, but if that quote were written today, it would probably endure various legal and public relations scrutiny and sound a lot like this:

“The top 1 percent of New Yorkers pay over 40 percent of all income taxes, providing huge benefits to everyone in our city and state,” said some jerkoff hedge-fund manager.