Thursday, January 31, 2013

From inspiration to tragedy

Decades ago, when I was looking for the passage with which to end my one-man play about Wayne Morse, I finally settled on this:
            So if you asked me, Wayne Morse, name
            the one thing in our country that you
            think will do more to strengthen
            American foreign policy in the next
            half century, you might be surprised
            at my reply. I would say, Do something
            to protect the educational standard of
            American boys and girls.  Do something
            to protect American brain power. 
            Because the only sure and lasting
            defense of peace is a highly educated
            and enlightened citizenry.

How inspirational!, I thought. But we failed the promise of Morse's insight. We don't have a highly educated and enlightened citizenry. We have Congressmen on science committees who are scientifically illiterate. Our once leading country in matters of technology and education is now ranked far down a list of countries. Our schools have failed to educate our children into adults who know what evidence is, who know how to choose between alternatives with regard to what is more likely to be true. We have reinforced the value of mythology over reason.

Never was this more apparent to me than when watching the documentary about the Texas Board of Education. I wish these folks were the exception but they aren't. They are representative of a widespread ignorance in the land. We don't need terrorists to defeat us. We are quite capable of defeating ourselves.

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