YESTERDAY I began to have flashbacks to one particularly memorable week in June. I had made the (surprisingly large) leap from the classroom desk to the classroom whiteboard, teaching 8th grade math in a inner-city Atlanta public school and learning very quickly the apparent irrationality of young people. Sure they look like miniature adults, but it is clear that their mental and emotional capacities still have a lot of room for growth. While it is important to note that my flashbacks were not the result of any encounter with actual children, it was certainly child-like characteristics that took me back to my first week teaching the 8th grade.
This childish behavior came not from the cinder blocks of a middle school but, instead, the marble lined halls of our nation’s capital. Men bickering, playing tit-for-tat, risking our country's faith and credit in the ultimate(ly stupid) game of brinkmanship. And for what? In a word, dogma or a set of principles that a group of people hold to be true. Specifically, the fight over (for the sane) how to and (for others) if we should raise the ceiling on the United States’ debt so that the country can pay its bills.
Sure, some may say that if there is anything to fight for it is the creed of one’s conscience, but to that I ask a simple question: how can someone have so much faith in that which itself is a mere construction of faith? Call it “a great circle” or “ideological justification for ideology”, but I call it “death by dogma”. For, when we begin to fight for a cause because it is the cause we are fighting for, not only our mind but, more importantly, our humanity has began its journey down the River Styx.
Now, some may argue that there are additional reasons for the stalemate taking place. Just think of the possible motives: political futures of politicians, promises made (to Mr. Grover Norquist), etc. But, these reasons can only satisfy the rationality of the politicians directly involved and do not explain the support for such politicians from the common man. All that is left to say in their defense is that either the masses are not being heard or that most are merely ignorant of the gravity of the situation. Unfortunately, I do not believe for a large portion of our population that either of these explanations are sufficient.
Unfortunately, many seem to be dieing from dogma, logically suffering in a circle. Too many are afraid and/or unwilling to question that which they believe and, thus, could never know truth evening if it was what they believe. I believe that there are many out there who can learn quite a lot for the following quotes if they can learn anything from them at all:
“The unexamined life is not worth living” ~Socrates
“The examined life is painful” ~Malcolm X