By helen on Feb 20, 2011 | In The Black Perspective of Views of America By Helen Burleson
ARE WE SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADERS?
By Helen L. Burleson, Doctor of Public Administration
Some suppositions were posed to me by a friend from St. Lucia in the eastern area of the Caribbean Sea.
Here are the suppositions:
“A nation that rejects Health Care for all,
Rejects plans for sustained development for the future,
Rejects educational advancement for its youth and retraining for its workers,
Rejects sustainable and renewable energy,
Rejects the most balanced President in History,
Fights against its own people;
And, a list too long to continue, can never be as smart as 5th graders.”
Looking at this nonintrospective look from an outsider made me pause to think about the answers to his theory.
It might amaze Americans to know how much people outside the United States are knowledgeable about what goes on in this country and why they form the opinions of us that they do.
I remember from my travels how well versed the children of Europe Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean Islands were. They knew more about the geography, the history and culture of America than their counterparts here in the United States know. I observed the classrooms in China and saw how focused and well disciplined the children were. At that time in the early ‘70’s China’s television consisted primarily of higher mathematics instruction. There were no commercials. On Saturdays, the children attended Saturday school or as it was called in Beijing, the Children’s Palace.
I always made it my business to talk to young people wherever I travelled because the teacher in me just made me inquisitive about what children were learning in other parts of the world. I found that I could have intelligent discussions with the young people on a variety of topics.
I looked at the images coming out of Cairo, Egypt and saw the discipline of the people in their quiet and yet determined protest. It reminded me of the non-violent protests led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the era of the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King, inspired by the venerated Indian leader, Mahatma Ghandi, avowed and practiced non-violence. We, Americans, seemed so supportive of the Egyptian people. I, too, admired them for their quiet strength and purpose. The eighteen days that they stayed the course, they won. Their president, Hosni Mubarak abdicated. Their work is not yet complete; they still have a complicated victory that is still unfolding.
By contrast, many Americans were critical of the workers in Wisconsin who also engaged in a quiet non-violent protest of their infringement or denial of their rights to petition their government.
In comparing and contrasting events and practices here at home and events outside our borders, I find it is interesting that we, who elected people to represent us, are not being represented by the people we voted for.
Overseas the disruptions are caused by countries that are basically run by despotic dictators and they have had no voice and no choice in who represents them.
I then started thinking about the challenge presented to me by my St. Lucian friend about how smart we are. When one of our country’s leaders dismisses the citizens by saying, “So be it,” I feel he is completely detached from the very people who need him and voted for him. When the leader of a state refers to workers in derogatory terms, I wonder if we are smarter than 5th graders!
In November of 2010 the balance of power in the House of Representative shifted when the minority party became the majority party. Voters embraced them as their hope for making the changes needed to get the country back to work and to balance the budget. Did they get what they voted for? They got a crying leader who plays tough between tears and totally ignores the will of the people for job creation. Instead the new majority members in the House of Representatives are spending all their time trying to overturn the crucial programs that were passed during the lame duck session of Congress that benefit the majority of the citizens. Have they, the new majority in the House of Representatives, presented any programs that would create jobs? No. These same misguided people who voted for this “new” change are the ones who are being laid off, denied unemployment benefits and are being disrespected and neglected while the representative they voted for are busy looking out for corporations and institutions that are a major factor in the financial crisis in the first place. Those voters must have gotten a covenant or a contract with a “guarantee” that they will have excellent health for all the days of their lives, for they are trying to dismantle the health care reform which provides health care for people with pre-existing conditions, assurance that they won’t be kicked out of their health plan should they become ill and will allow their young adult children to stay on their insurance policies until they are twenty six years old. I wonder what a 5th grader would think of that kind of decision making?
To make certain that these voters would be supportive of the dismantling of health care reform, millions of dollars were spent denigrating the health care reform and using as an adjective the name of the President of the United States, thus, instead of calling it health care reform, they refer to it disdainfully as “Obamacare.” Because 24/7 they devote media time disrespecting the President of the United States, anything with his name preceding it has got to be bad. Knowing the limitations of the average American to do due diligence, to read anything other than the sports section, to watch anything on TV other than sports, entertainment and propaganda purveyors, their brains are sufficiently washed clean of any constructive or self preserving thoughts. They are being programmed to do things that are not in their own best interest. Self preservation is the first law of nature and yet these people are programmed to preserve the top 2% or the oligarchy or the ruling class. How does it benefit the average hard working man to agree to give big tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires when they, themselves have no job security, if they have a job at all. I’ve seen 5th graders who knew how to hold their ground and stand up for themselves. I keep thinking back to what my foreign friend had to say.
Americans have access to the best information on the globe. We have publicly supported libraries with volumes of books on all subjects. Most people have computers in their homes or access to computers in libraries and other public facilities. All of the world’s information is easily accessed on any subject. The background, record and position taken by any politician is right there as a matter of public record. Because that is true, why is it that so many people voted for those whose philosophies are not compatible with their own or that don’t look out for the best interest of those who voted for them? Unlike 5th graders, they no longer have teachers and or parents who are telling them to study or to do their homework, so on their own, they do nothing and learn nothing.
As much as I like to debate issues, I cannot quarrel with my friend who is taking an objective look at Americans. I find I must agree. For the most part, we are not smarter than 5th graders.
DENIAL OF REPARATIONS IS WRONG
|ONE thing that can be done to erase homelessness: a one stop Safe Haven 24/7 »|