We have observed that our fellow Americans are very poor at geography. While it is easy to blame crumbling educational standards--a corrupted educational community, more bent on compulsion driven egalitarian goals (addressed to somehow reversing the division of labor that led to all human progress from the pre-historic society), than orienting children in relation to either place or heritage;--there may be yet more basic phenomena at work.
A compulsion for uniformity, which leads to a trivialized perception of the importance of the context of human action--because cause is never fully analyzed by those committed to a predetermined result--is the common causation for both geographic ignorance & a general decline in educational focus in the social "sciences" & related disciplines--as well as much else that is very wrong in any contemporary social milieu. In focusing, not on past experience, struggle & the profound differences between elements of a species, but rather on the wish lists of humanists pursuing a forced leveling of Mankind; studying place has simply gone the way of traditional purpose & function. Educational institutions that once had a more eclectic role, are now reduced to acting as guidons in a compulsion driven war on Nature.
Our October Feature, Losing America's Multi-Generational Purpose, dealt with a wide array of areas, vital to the ongoing future of a people, where perspective has become clouded--if not myopic;--and the focus has become almost entirely on things of the moment, with little attention to either past struggle & achievement, or the future continuity of rooted Americans or any other people. While most "innovations" (the social changes discussed) were heralded as reforms or improvements, by those who challenge traditional values; they will hardly pass rational analysis.
The Founding Fathers urged the importance of Faith & Religion, in securing the moral conscience, essential to a preservation of the political culture, which they established. Yet over the past century, there has been a growing de-emphasis on the importance of Religion in preserving cultural institutions. The ACLU & other such groups, addressed in Chapters 3 & 13 of our Debate Handbook, linked below, have aggressively attacked any connection between a State, or local subdivision, and any Faith based institution. This, while starting with a reasonable plea that the right of dissent be respected, has gathered momentum; rapidly morphing into a demand that any public display or community observation by a local political institution be prohibited: Dissent morphing from an individual right not to participate, into a "right" to prohibit a community from carrying on its religious traditions!
Many American communities were founded by persons of a particular Faith, who came from across the sea to found their own community for the explicit purpose of practicing that Faith. This is but one example of a vast array of instances where multi-generational purpose has been confused. Why & how?
While Americans no longer study geography, as once we did--a focus on each place in the context of every other place;--the concept of "place" has certainly not been abandoned. Indeed, it has morphed in some cases with a mystique to which a variety of social magic has been attributed. Thus, former President George W. Bush, sought in 2006 to justify a path to citizenship for millions illegally in the United States, on the premise that America would by such mystique make us all as one (Bush On Immigration). Unfortunately, for his credibility, he chose to ignore millions, here, for generations, reflecting varied origins & personality types, who have chosen not to accept the cultural concepts of the Founding Fathers--concepts that reflect particular personality types.
We have discussed the Norman Cousins attack on the former educational emphasis on understanding differences between the distinct peoples of the earth, in several articles (example, Surrender By Subterfuge). Spurred, by his efforts, as well as the more general Egalitarian attack upon American exceptionalism, a former emphasis on the 17 & 18th Century settlement, economic & political development of the 13 British colonies, on what is now our Eastern seaboard, has been vastly reduced, often replaced by curricula that glorifies 20th Century agitations & attacks on the surviving cultures from that settlement. Even without critically examining the philosophic (Egalitarian, Marxist & Fabian Socialist) underpinnings of that agitation, it must be obvious that shifting the emphasis from the roots of a culture, to attacks on that culture, is not consistent with the continuity of the people who created that culture.
A symptom of this confusion of place, personality & history, has been the sudden shift in the late 20th Century, from identifying peoples by their racial origins, which reflect an actual genetic history & particular ethnic struggles, to lumping all together by continent of origin; which trivializes both purpose & ancestry, without actually addressing the role of physical geography in ethnic development.
You do not preserve a culture or political system, carefully designed by particular people to reflect historic values & social proclivities, by gradually--or not so gradually--replacing their posterity, with those who share neither those historic values nor social proclivities; not by telling yourself that it was somehow the geography--not particular individuals, with particular personalities--who created your culture.
Cousins' attack on traditional education, above, called for a confusion of the purpose of education--basically from understanding reality, into a pursuit of fantasy for ulterior purpose. Certainly the changing perspective & the refocus on what is significant in American history, represents a confusion of function as to the development & preservation of civilization; a shift in perspective from the creation of a civilzation to the pursuit of wish lists. But these are only part of the loss of focus in the last Century.
Consider the morphing of "Welfare" (see Jefferson's exposition in Reality), from institutionalized Charity to a corrupting "entitlement." Or the increasing intrusion of a Federal Government, given no role in local education, medical care, or personal problem solving, in the Federal Constitution, into such areas, today. If this does not involve confusion of function, how may one describe it?
Education & health care are both intensely local, immediate & personal. The relationship between a teacher & student; between a physician & patient. Having layers of bureaucracy intruding on those relationships can only interfere with the necessary adjustments to individual need; can only squander public resources. This is perfectly obvious! Why then the push for intervention?
The explanation lies in what is being replaced by that intervention. This includes not only the ability of a teacher or physician to innovate, without fear of a Federal check list; but all the nuanced influences, derived from idiosyncratic community, social or economic, factors. What is under attack are the economic & cultural factors, unique to any particular community--the actual "diversity" intrinsic to Federalism: The inevitable consequences of the actual inequality of Mankind! Whether the motivation is primarily compulsion or envy driven, it represents a confusion of function, possible only because of a loss of focus on the fundaments of law, economics & human interaction.
You can not improve the performance of one group--or one community--by taking decision making, in their own affairs, out of their hands.
You do not encourage true problem solving, by forcing a uniformity of approach in every situation.
One of the first essays, when we launched the predecessor to this web site in October, 1998, dealt with the Compulsion For Uniformity, the neurotic pursuit, which provided a common motivation for Communism, Socialism (including democratic, Fabian & Nazi varieties), Jacobins & those mistakenly called "Liberals," in contemporary America. Consider again, the array of separate indicators of our loss of the former contextual focus on rational human action; first as separate & unconnected; then as examples of a pervasive malady. Is there really any doubt that the identified compulsion has been a major factor? Or that the perceived need to seek uniformity among the actual variations of Mankind--whether of race, sex, class or place--is, in fact, largely compulsion driven?
Each such movement that has pursued uniformity in the human condition, has also sought to blame definable high achievers for the woes of the general population. In postulating a non-existent uniformity of potential in any society, there is a missing link to anything justified by experience. The vicious Blame Game is a substitute for that missing link.
You do not improve the lot of some, by blaming others for their problems; or by promoting envy & resentment, rather than emulation of those who have fared better.
You do not help those who fail, by excusing bad decisions, increasing dependence upon political "entitlements," or encouraging hatred of those who succeed.
And in disparaging personal qualities, which make anyone unique, you sabotage the potential of any individual, community or nation, to rise significantly in the future.