Education is Under Attack in the USA

America is being dumbed down at an alarming rate. Is this really the America we want? Apparently so since so many failed to vote.

The Progressive Cynic

© Josh Sager – February 2015

An educated population is a vital resource to any developed nation (if not a requirement for a nation to become developed).

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On the individual level, there are numerous benefits that come from educational achievement. More educated individuals tend to make more money, live longer, and have greater career achievements than those who have less education. These individual benefits translate to societal benefits, as more educated societies tend to be healthier, more productive, less violent, and more likely to produce technological progress.

Unfortunately, the modern American right wing has become stuck in a mindset where education is derided and, where possible, defunded or privatized. The meme of the “ivory tower liberal elite” competing with the “common sense conservative” has created a justification for large portions of our nation to see education as something that is not only unnecessary, but a threat to their established ways…

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Godless Liberal

The other day I was called a “Godless Liberal”, not for the first time, during a political debate; I pondered this for a few minutes before I responded. I understood my opponent was angry with me, furious if truth were told. If we had been speaking face-to-face, I suspect the ‘Godless Liberal’ would have been accompanied with finger pointing and looked something like this:Anger


Before I go on, by the way my response was “Yes, but you will never understand the nuance.”

Perhaps the words I used were too big, maybe he didn’t understand them. Whatever the case was, the discussion went downhill from there, the content of his argument went from senseless fiction regarding the state of police violence to comments regarding my gender and my relationship to canines (Fucking Bitch was one of the least offensive but most frequently used).

The entire exchange got me thinking about the state of our national conversation, not from a political standpoint, not from what we see in media but, from how we speak to one another. It got me thinking; outside the usually polite boundaries we maintain in professional settings, we have none anywhere else. We are perfectly comfortable with name-calling, crossing any previously established boundary to disparage our opponent and we have not the least amount of shame in our behavior. What made this complete faceless stranger feel comfortable denigrating me in the most sexist terms?

Just to keep this all in perspective, he continued to pound me and everyone else with his moral superiority based on his Christianity, which apparently also magically infused him with intellectual superiority as well. I was frankly astounded.


Of course we only have this group of truly wonderful examples to compare him with.


That said and his point made, he viewed me as ‘outside’ and unworthy of anything approaching civil discourse. I did not surmise this, he told me he was under no obligation to treat me with respect as I was a ‘non-believer’ and bound for Hell.

Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples, Integrity

Do these words have real meanings anymore? Can we say with certainty all societies have something akin to moral structures members willingly agree with and abide by? When my little friend called me a Godless Liberal, what did he really mean? Did he fully understand or was he just parroting mindlessly what he heard from others. Was this his only answer when he was no longer able to debate the issue at hand?

The question of Godliness and Godlessness, religious affiliation, worship both what and how, whether we recognize them or not, have been taking center stage in our public life for decades now. Though we are enjoined from doing so by our laws, even by our Constitution and by implication by our Bill of Rights, we judge each other by a set of Principles. Whether we subscribe to a ‘religion’ or not, we nonetheless subscribe to a common set of Principles, though some may be more porous, more flexible within the context of our day-to-day lives.

I have been thinking about this all week. This is what I have ultimately come up with, tell me what you think, am I right or wrong?

Morals: Primarily derived from religious thinking, all societies have basic frameworks that seem to be consistent though some are more deranged than others in their application of the rules.

  • Don’t be dishonest (Lie, Cheat, Steal)
  • Don’t be promiscuous and be faithful in your marriage (don’t covet either)
  • Don’t murder (killing might be okay though for the right reason)
  • Be compassionate to those weaker than yourself (feed the hungry, care for the sick and aged)

Ethics: Primarily defined for businesses to operate in the marketplace, organizations establish these to clarify the rules and ensure everyone knows them. Personally, I think in many cases Business Ethics are the organizations smoke screen but that is just me. I have seen these few from past employers they have rarely been adhered to.

  • Don’t pay bribes (Influence peddling)
  • Respect for individuals (Civil and Human Rights)
  • Respect for local culture
  • Respect for environment
  • Deliver profit to shareholders

Principles, Values, Scruples & Integrity: I have combined these because they are all personal in my mind. We develop personal and interpersonal relationships within society and with individuals, how we interact is based on our own evolution. Despite what some would have us believe we are not born Principled or with Integrity. When we come into the world, we are nothing more than empty vessels waiting to be filled.

I essentially filtered the 10 Commandments down to three (similar to George Carlin) and then added one of my own. Most religions agree with these as foundational notwithstanding the simpler language I used. I find myself in a quandary as I consider the issue of Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples and Integrity –

OpEdStarting at the reading of my four Commandments, I walk the walk every day. Thus, I have Morals.

If I read my Ethics, as a businessperson who has worked in a variety of roles for Fortune 100 companies and as an Independent Business Owner, I walk the walk and talk the talk. In fact, I have been in trouble for doing so in the past. With this answer in mind, I am also a person of Ethics.

Continuing with my reading through the last group of definitions, I know my answers and believe I am a person of Integrity, a Principled person.

Godless, perhaps if I apply the definition as society does it this is true; I am not religious only spiritual. I do not subscribe to any religion created by man to control society, engineer preferred outcomes or oppress entire segments of society by gender, class or in some cases race. In fact I don’t just not subscribe, I reject.

Liberal, indeed I have been an agitator, a protestor and at times an ‘in your face’ type of Godless Liberal. I am now and have been since I was old enough to understand the difference a Progressive Left of Center Liberal.

Being a Godless Liberal wasn’t an illegal or immoral political stance last I heard, in fact some of the greatest men and women of history were staunch Liberals, including our own Founding Fathers. It seems we have lost our way. Stoning, burning at the stake, dunking have all been outlawed in the US of A for many years now; with Godless Liberal and public Slut Walking making a comeback, I have to wonder what is next?

Post Valentine’s Day

Linda1I tried, really I tried.

The idea of being enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day simply left me cold. First, it is somewhat a made up holiday intended to force lovers, wanna be lovers, not so much lovers, school children and others to pretend one day a year. Pretend what you ask. Well pretend to remember to say the stuff they forgot all the rest of the year in most cases, in the case of schoolchildren, pretend they are grown enough to “wooove” someone and give them little hearts with cute sayings on them.

Don’t get me wrong, Valentine’s Day can be fun. It can bring out the romantic in even the most taciturn of men, with some prodding. It can turn even the most practical of women to mush with the right amount of flowers, chocolate and a great foot massage. Valentine’s Day can provide couples the opportunity to remind each other they are still there, still hanging on.

The problem I have with Valentine’s Day?

It simply feels forced. Why do we need a day to tell each other we appreciate the things we are to each other? Shouldn’t we do this every single day of the year?image2474170x

Then there is the problem I have that we have co-opted a Catholic Saints day as our romantic holiday, a martyred saint no less. Of course, there is no historical connection between either St. Valentine and ‘romantic’ love, in fact there is very little written about them, anywhere. It is far more likely Valentine’s Day comes to us from an early Roman Rite, the festival of Lupercalia. This was a special one, priests would sacrifice a goat and a dog together, mixing their blood then flay the goats hide into strips, dipping that into the mixed blood. After that, they would slap single women and crops with the bloody strips, and then pair the women with bachelors for the year. The premise being if the women were fruitful they would marry, maybe.

150953_10202867023217165_1478976694_nJust so, we are all clear, the first Valentine’s card was sent by the then imprisoned Duke of Orleans in 1415. So this silliness has been around for a very long time.

As I said, I tried. I have never though been very good with Valentine’s Day. Maybe it was my name I was traumatized early on, we all have Valentine in our name somewhere. My mother had no clue what she did to us putting us in the local paper. Personally? I just like the sales on chocolate on February 15.

Blues, Funk and Aniversaries

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I was blue, truly and honestly blue. I couldn’t put my finger on it, couldn’t identify the source but yesterday I was blue.

Yesterday, my energy levels were low and I was inspired to do nothing. Absolutely nothing inspired me, with the exception of finding a cave, crawling into it and pulling a rock over the entrance.

I could not find a reason for my ennui; thinking it was just the past three hard weeks at work. The long drive back and forth from Dallas to Houston was wearing me down. The twelve hour days resulting only in, ‘not good enough, not what I want’ feedback from leadership that seemed to have a constantly shifting agenda. Still through all of this, yesterday I was blue and I could not focus on the cause.


It came to me, this morning, as I was checking the date or simply looking at a calendar for some reason or maybe trying to prove it was past now. Yesterday was a red-letter day and I ignored it, did not give yesterday its due. Ignored the date, did not sit down and allow my heart to wash over me with all the feelings I was having, instead I attempted to pretend there was nothing special and I was simply blue.

The truth is, yesterday wasn’t special, not in the way, most of us think of ‘special’. Yesterday did mark for me a day of transition, change or transformation. Yesterday did mark the anniversary of the day that set my feet on a different path and made changes to my body, my spirit even my brain there would be no turning back from, no matter how I might wish this to be different.

Yesterday I was blue and rather than acknowledge why I blamed it on everything, including:

  • My current job, client and bosses
  • The fact my house is a mess
  • My finances after a six month hiatus from work, but which are not as bad as they were or as I think they are or as bad as some people who are truly suffering
  • My loneliness, that is somewhat self-imposed
  • The lack of physical touch in my life, that I find I miss a great deal but which has also been self-imposed

Yesterday I was blue and what I didn’t blame it on was the date, the anniversary, the three bullets and the three young men that changed me forever and sent my life on a different and unlooked for trajectory. Yesterday, I was in a deep funk with tears settled right on the edge waiting to spill at slightest hint I would allow blue to turn into a crying jag (I didn’t) and I wouldn’t look at a calendar because instinctively I knew what day it was and simply didn’t want to say it out

So, I distracted myself with walks in the park, which honestly I needed anyway. I distracted myself with talking to people who love me, but I didn’t tell them I was hurting and why. Then when the sun was down and the house was dark again, with sitting quietly staring at a blank page in my journal unable to pick up my pen, because I was blue and I was in a deep funk. When the bedroom was dimly lit with the nightlight I never turn off,  I rocked myself to sleep finally because I was lonely and I miss physical touch, I was hurting and I simply refused to acknowledge it was an anniversary of sorts, one that had changed me in fundamental ways and at my core.

Now, today, this morning I acknowledge I was blue because it is hard not to remember, it is impossible not to be triggered no matter how hard I try to avoid calendars and other reminders. It is hard not to remember and be angry. It is hard not to remember and be sad. It is hard not to remember and then wonder sometimes, what would life be like if I hadn’t have stopped for gas, if I hadn’t have stopped for cigarettes. What would life be like if I had just been five minutes earlier or later, just five minutes that is all. Sometimes I can’t help myself, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if I hadn’t survived, hadn’t have been quite so strong. It isn’t that I am not happy to be alive 97% of the time, but I can’t help but wonder sometimes if it wouldn’t have been better, when I am blue like yesterday or when I am hurting or when I have a seizure.

Yesterday I was blue, I know why. Yesterday was the twenty-third anniversary of my carjacking / kidnapping and shooting; where I nearly lost my life and most certainly lost my belief I was invincible.

There, I said it.

Today, I start the first day of my personal new year. I am determined to get back in the swing of things.

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