Dumber Than Necessary
Are we making ourselves stupid? Or, are we only being blind?
I had an epiphany once. There's no other way to say it. Some people look at you strange when you say that, mainly people who've never had one. What the heck? St. Paul had one. Descartes too. Archimedes and Isaac Newton had them too. I've pretty sure that Einstein had one, probably a few.
Wikipedia says that the word epiphany originally referred to gaining sudden insight through the intervention of the divine. Mystery schools and initiatory rites used to evoke them and Greek drama would purposely attempt to "induct the audience into states of catharsis or kenosis," where the theater goer would achieve a sudden and more penetrating insight of the play's message.
Wikipedia ironically goes on to state, "Today, this concept is more often used without such connotations," referring to the aspect of the intervention of the divine. I say ironically because whoever put that definition in and felt compelled to make it more palatable to modern taste by playing down the divine origin of such a sudden expansion of knowledge has also identified the problem with the concept of epiphanous insight and the modern age of clown school thinking (apologies to clowns).
The Wikipedia definition then goes on to say, "but a popular implication remains that the epiphany is supernatural, as the discovery seems to come suddenly from the outside." This made me want to put a little asterisk and write the word, "Duh!" at the bottom of the page. However, it is really more of the case that the divine outside of us makes contact with the divine that is inside of us. And by divine, I mean all of the immense stuff of the universe that has yet to be spayed and neutered by the lab coated high priests of mediocrity in their insane worship of Groucho, the Roman God of burnt toast.
My epiphany was basically that I suddenly understood the power of the subconscious and its importance to the life of an individual. I know that it was real because I suddenly understood a whole bunch of shit that was always right in front of my face. How literature really works, the meaning and symbolism of the classic young adult novel Old Yeller, the meaning of the book Tuck Everlasting, the role of mythology in religion, what to tell my oldest daughter about her, at that time, impending move to Portland, and mainly the realization that most human beings on this planet are playing a dumbed down but slightly more complex version of Monopoly adapted to their own life and setting.
The saddest thing though was I suddenly found myself like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show realizing that most of the dialogue ai was hearing was pure blather and that a lot of my acquaintances spoke it fluently. It's not like everybody else around me were just actors in this movie; no, they were all Trumans too in their own little shows who had yet to notice all the props and the other clues.
The last few years of my teaching career were open rebellion, and not because I really wanted it to be that way. Our educational system, like pretty much all the rest of all our institutions, government agencies, and organizations seem to be just acting like the Mainstreet USA sets on the backlot of some bizarre Hollywood movie studio. Worst still, they were teaching our kids how to blather too.
I read this book The Divine Code of Life written by a Nobel Prize winning professor of biogenetics named Kazuo Murakami. In the book, the professor says that not only are we capable of altering our DNA for the better, but that we are also hardwired to be the best version of ourselves.
This just happens to be the same exact message that Jesus is speaking of in the Parable of the Talents. It is at essence, the purpose of human life, "Become the best version of yourself." Not only religion, but mythology, fictional literature, quantum physics, and psychology echoes the same idea.
It could be thought of as a method of acquiring more bandwidth, a way of gaining download speed. In other words, being able to see and understand more elevated content without any of the ads for wart remover and breath mints.
Murakami also said that there are things in life that keep "the switches" on in our DNA which allow us to change things for the better: humor, positive thinking, curiosity, a sense of wonder, and even some types of stress. It goes without saying that the opposite is also true. Frustration, negative thoughts, apathy, and too much stress and anxiety can keep the switches in the off position.
What this means in terms of education is that we need from day one to let all of our students know that the purpose of life isn't about gaining success in a material world, but that our very existence is predicated on the idea of realizing our best selves, and that true success lies in learning how to overcome obstacles in order to become your best self.
I wrote about this frequently and brought up at staff meetings too, only to be greeted a lot of grass chewing stares and the same lack of comprehension you recieve when you tell someone you just had an epiphany.
My attention floated back to this subject after I stumbled onto and an old blog post I had written back then. Afterwards, an article appeared on my Facebook timeline that pointed out just how badly that Common Core has failed in its purpose.
I thought, "Well, what did they expect from a political solution to a spiritual problem? What did they think was going to happen with a program that denigrated literature in favor of information gathering, a curriculum willing to throw meaning under the bus in order to kiss the ass of a data driven corporate America?"
At that moment I had another small epiphany, an understanding of something that has been right there all along.
I have been sheltering in place longer than Noah was on the Ark waiting for a sign from God. Hell, I didn't even want a white dove, all I wanted was to find something on television that didn't involve stupidity, fighting, screaming, laughing at other folk's misery, using sex to sell me something, gratuitous violence, fake news, etc. And it wasn't there to find.
Remember what Murakami said about keeping our switches on? The people in charge of American society seem to be more concerned with keeping us all in the dark.
Then there was an article about some policemen in Fresno arresting two people for going to a Waffle house during the lockdown. All of the comments I read on social media regarding the incident were as heated and angry as the public commentary that preceded the American Civil War.
Can you imagine what the history books are going to say, telling future people that the Second Civil War was triggered by the eating of waffles?
The news media has become even more blatantly dishonest than the Soviet Union's at the height of the Cold War. You can't say that our politicians behave like spoiled children without insulting spoiled children. They are like watching terrible, coke addled actors performing in a poorly written soap opera. They are like actors in another way and that is in their willingness to sell their souls in order to serve us steaming hot shit on a plate. They season it so well, and serve it with a smile that serves as testament to the skills of modern dentistry, but after that first bite it is impossible to pretend it ain't shit.
We have been watching the demented comedies and moronic TV shows that Hollywood produces for so long, that it shouldn't be any wonder that we are currently living in some extremely bizarre and dangerous reality show.
But what else should we expect when even a lowly Wikipedia content provider feels compelled to dumbsplain his/her use of the word divine?