We are living through a fearful time. My mother spoke frequently of the erosion of individual rights, in the U. S., in the years preceding her untimely exit from our lives. My siblings and I sometimes wonder if she died on purpose, from outrage at the impending annihilation of the middle class. I think she died to save us.
She worked hard all of her life to provide for her children. She demanded independence and self-reliance from all of us so that we would never have to know subjugation. She died in 2007, on the eve of her 70th birthday; we were fortunate to sell her house in November of the same year, just before the real estate bubble burst.
My sister is a professional, working in a science based environment. She tells me the corporate culture is intellectually regressive, promoting use of the most basic vocabulary possible. She has several hours toward a graduate degree and frequently interacts with co-workers, who completed doctoral work and a rigorous credentialing process. We are perplexed by the disinterest, of formally educated people, in efficient expression.
We have a secondary schoolteacher in our family, who tells us that vocabulary is no longer part of the curriculum. It is assumed that young students will discern meaning from context. There appears to be a movement toward privatizing primary and secondary education, moving to a for profit model. Union busting is vigorously attempted, most notably in Wisconsin.
People, who do not read or write, cannot possibly defend themselves from exploitation or subjugation. My mother was a schoolteacher. We could not afford vacations when we were growing up but books were abundant in our home. If we wished to escape we opened a book and our minds. We were encouraged to explore expression, to articulate creatively so that we could win arguments with each other.
Intellectual curiosity and expression is quietly being subverted. Education does not promote the expansion of young minds but rather insists on the conformity of rigid, standardized testing. Programs that request an infinitesimal amount of federal funding are being cut and the people who will suffer are the impoverished. Planned Parenthood and NPR are threatened. Oddly, the military industrial complex thrives. I know young people who have joined the armed forces because there are no jobs; kids who don’t realize the price they may pay for wanting a life they can support independently, without burdening their underemployed parents.
We must protect one another from a government that refuses to serve the people, while we still have the right to articulate creatively.