I often speculate about why there seems to be so much disagreement about issues that were never a part of my life as a child. I do not recall discussion or argument over guns, or abortion, or pro-life vs. whatever, or equal rights, or womens' rights. Granted, abortion was mostly not ever discussed, period, because it was a dirty word. I do recall the Civil Rights movement, but it was something very distant to a little kid living in sparsely settled Central Washington State.
But, what was I taught that today's kids are not being taught? What did we learn that is no longer being taught? Or, what was I not taught that is standard today? How much has education changed during my lifetime? Is it that much different today compared to when I went to school?
I really cannot answer all of these questions, but I can certainly speculate. To begin with, let's understand that I was born, brought up, and educated long, long ago, in a place far, far away, OK? I was born, raised, and educated in the State of Washington during the 1950's and early 1960's. That means I started with First Grade (because Kindergarten was not required in those days) in September of 1951, in the small town of Eatonville, Washington. I then attended Washington State Public Schools in Elma, Prosser, Roosevelt, Goldendale, and, finally, Tacoma.
So, to begin with, it must be understood that my public education was not influenced by traditions or cultural factors such as what might have been unique to New England (Puritanism?), or The South (Slavery, The Civil War), or even the Mid-West (pure grain fed). My family traditions were pretty much Protestant, although no church affiliation was ever evidenced, white, anglo-saxon, with a heavy dose of Germanic background (my mother's family).
I know today that I was taught a whole lot of things that younger generations seem to be unaware of, or that they have never been exposed to. And, that begins with history, and must include outdated ideas like standards and principles, honor, duty, civics, and just plain good manners. We were taught to respect our teachers, and all adults, but especially policemen, and others in positions of authority. We had a great reverence for the brave soldiers of both world wars, and a strong feeling of patriotism.
We were taught that the first European immigrants to this land were mostly from England, and that many of them were seeking a chance to worship a bit differently from most of the people around them. I remember that some other factors were involved in that search for a new land, though, as well. For one thing, there was too much demand for too little land, so poverty and simply having room to live were factors. Another thing I seem to recall was the belief that it was wrong to imprison people for debt.
As for the founding of the United States of America, I was taught that a vital underpinning of our type of government had to do with a need to strive for the most good for the most people. And, of course, that came from mostly religious teaching and belief that one should always strive to do good as opposed to doing evil. And, from early on, we were taught that the majority rules, because that helps to ensure that the most good for the most people would be a reality.
And, we learned that a very long and hard *revolutionary* war was waged against the British Crown, way back when, to "free us" from the tyrannical government of Great Britain. We also were taught that a terrible Civil War had been fought between certain States to the South, who sought to retain slavery, and other states, mostly to the North, who thought that all men should be free. We learned that we, the great people of the United States of America had also fought wars to free certain places from Spanish rule, and to help the people of Europe remain free of oppression, and to stop the evil Hun, first as represented by The Kaiser, and later, from the German Nazis and the cruelty and tyranny of Japan.
Of course, then we found that we (America) had to fight again to help keep the people of South Korea free of Communist rule, and by the time we were teenagers, we found our world involved in a Cold War against more Communists. So, we hardly had time to turn on each other in this constant strife to save the world, while continuing to work to achieve the greatest good for the most people right here at home. Actually, I don't think we turned on each other until the protests against our presence in Vietnam.
Maybe that was the turning point. I don't know. What I do know is that by the time I got out of the Army, in late 1968, I was already married, and our (my wife and I) immediate focus became the pursuit of education for better careers, and the raising of a family. Perhaps we, along with too many others of my generation, took our eye off the ball so long that we allowed certain elements among us to begin the erosion of the once great place that was the U. S. A. After having received good public school educations, we allowed the schools to assume ever more responsibility for the raising of our kids, and discipline began to break down. We allowed someone, at some point, to remove from the public school curriculum, some very important basics of a good education.
When I say important basics, I am talking specifically about courses like shop, drafting, civics, and course content like art and music. My wife is a retired classroom teacher, and she remembers when such basically important things like using scissors, all of a sudden, became verboten. Worse, teachers, especially in the first vital years of education, were no longer allowed to let kids play, as recess was cut! And, no more naps, for the little ones in Kindergarten! No work with cutting things out, coloring, using glue, and all those basically simple things that we all started out with. What were we thinking?
Couple the drastic lack of any ability to provide a rounded education with the breakdown of the family, and the lack of discipline within family and school, and what could we expect? That answer to that question is apparently at least two generations now who know little of history, lack the ability to think objectively, and are only too willing to believe what any authority figure tells them. The result? That son of a bitch who is currently in the white house, and a Congress that long ago sold its very soul to big money.
This helps to explain why it is not possible to have any kind of dialogue with supporters of the current occupant of the white house, or 2nd Amendment supporters. In short, the very vocal members of today's GOP are not at all like those a couple of generations ago. The party of Lincoln is now the party of George Lincoln Rockwell, and there is no hint of anything from the party leaders that might resemble efforts for the good of the nation.
I, for one, am saddened at today's version of America.