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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Choices

To me, the first and most essential moral choice a human being must make is whether to deal with the world as it is or whether to pretend that the world is what he or she wants it to be. This is a round-up of posts by various bloggers about our problems in doing just that.

First, Dr. Sanity on the movie Narnia:
Basically, it is a story about good and evil. About the choices each of us make in confronting the world and coping with its unpleasant and painful realities. The opening scene of London being bombed and the Pevensie's reactions set the stage for the entire drama. Even sent far away into the calm and peaceful English countryside by a well-meaning and loving parent, the children are still confronted with the reality of good and evil; still have to make choices about which side they belong on and who they choose to love and support.
She also thinks that the agitation against the movie arises from a psychological conflict:
...it occurred to me that the hostile reception of Narnia on the part of many of the "anti-Christian coalition" (see here for example) had less to do with the movie's underlying (Christian) theology/mythology (which I thought was not at all emphasized) than it had to do with what must have been their intense identification with Edmund, whose inner conflicts and whining bitterness with its concomitant desire for power (especially over his siblings) leads him to betray his family and Narnia to a cold and ruthless evil.
I have learned not ignore Dr. Sanity's links, so I clicked on her example and read a hilarious column by Polly Toynbee:
But from its opening scenes of the bombing of their Finchley home in the blitz and the tear-jerking evacuation from their mother in a (spotlessly clean) steam train, there is an emotional undertow to this film that tugs on the heart-strings from the first frames. By the end, it feels profoundly manipulative, as Disney usually does. But then, that is also deeply faithful to the book's own arm-twisting emotional call to believers.
The part that Polly truly hates is Aslan's sacrifice and the guilt that poor Edmund is made to bear. Never mind that he is rescued from the witch by that sacrifice. Polly is all steamed up that Edmund is made to feel bad for abetting evil. She seems even more steamed up by the idea that he is rescued from that evil by Aslan's self-sacrifice. This could explain why the hateful left seems to hate the members of our volunteer Armed Forces so. They don't like their willingness to suffer deprivation and the risk of life and limb for their sakes. The guilt, you know?

Now I'll throw in a bit of Mark Steyn on the Iranian call for the annihilation of Israel:
In Iran, President Ahmaddamytree figures that half the world likes his Jew proposals and the rest isn't prepared to do more than offer a few objections phrased in the usual thin diplo-pabulum.

We assume, as Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax and other civilized men did 70 years ago, that these chaps may be a little excitable, but come on, old boy, they can't possibly mean it, can they? Wrong. They mean it but they can't quite do it yet. Like Hitler, when they can do it, they will -- or at the very least the weedy diplo-speak tells them they can force the world into big concessions on the fear that they can.
...
If a genocidal fantasist is acceptable in polite society, we'll soon find ourselves dealing with a genocidal realist.
Exactly. The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe is certainly feeding this dog, and that is what he is. The people who will not properly rebuke him are cowardly abetters of evil. I just don't think they like to be reminded of that.

The Anchoress writes of the strange phenomenon of what many today do see as evil - voting Republican (as Polly Toynbee did not fail to remind her readers):
I have heard the phrase repeated to me a few times by stunned liberals…”I don’t understand it, you’re a Conservative, but I still find I like you…”
...
I’d been a Democrat and a liberal all my life and never heard Republicans described, in my family or in my neighborhood, or by my fellow Dems as “evil” until the Clinton campaign of 1992, where all of a sudden right and left no longer denoted differences of opinion, but became absolute, moral judgements.
...
Really, it’s pretty basic. We’re supposed to treat others as we would like to be treated.
But never speak basic moral common sense - it is out of fashion completely. Ideologies like fascism don't stand the test of time and can't withstand the impact of reality, so fanaticism breeds fanaticism to feed its own self-righteousness. The less we try to grapple with realities, the more we buy into some fanaticism or another. The more we try to deal with realities, unpleasant and elusive of solution as they may be, the more we breed moderation and consensus. One of the reasons I like the Anchoress so much is that she has been pointing that out when she sees it in both camps.

Finally, I'll close with this excellent post of Sigmund, Carl and Alfred's:
A black family learns what it's like to be white while a white family becomes black in the six-part documentary series "Black.White," scheduled for broadcast on the FX cable network in March. Makeup temporarily transforms the two families for the series developed by filmmaker R.J. Cutler and actor-rapper Ice Cube.

"The loud message of the show is that we are a divided nation," said Cutler, who won an Emmy for outstanding reality program for "American High." "But we can come together if we're willing to talk about our differences and work to see the world through the eyes of other people."

Well, tra-la-la-la. As SC&A points out:
While the 'can't we all get along' idiots want to hold hands and sing Kumbaya, the reality is that it will take a lot more than that to overcome racial, religious and cultural differences.
...
Want to make a difference? Want to make our world a better place? The formula to succeed in those endeavors is not a secret. We need to work harder at reaching into ourselves, to do the best we possibly can. We need to make the necessary committments to make those efforts bear fruit. If we do all that, those changes we seek will come to pass.
This is fake, feel-good compassion instead of the nasty and inconvenient kind which demands we do something about the objects of our compassion. Forcing ourselves to confront the legacy of racism would force us to do unpleasant things like really work at improving inner-city schools and change anti-achievement mindsets. We're not going to come together until we actually resolve to work at solving problems rather than sitting around and announcing our extreme concern and great tolerance. It's types like the ones who make these series that don't want "those people" in their neighborhoods and are more than happy to hire illegal immigrants as maids, gardeners and nannies to take care of them in their gated communities.


Comments:
As a person who was actually involved in "improving" inner city schools, let me tell you reality.

1. The stereotypical hostile kid stabbing teachers in the fourth grade may be true for about 5%. The rest are indifferent. They are comatose. You will look at a class of the "undead," interested in nothing. Getting them to wake up is a near impossible task because their parent (s) are just as bad.

2. The parents: to them improving the schools mean handing out A's for nothing. Period. They will not make their kids do homework, think reading is for white people, and in general are hostile to education.

All the noise you hear from black communities is just that, noise. The schools that work have involved parents who help teachers, help classes, and show up for PTA meetings. That is the way "private" schools are run, only there the parental involvement is mandatory. There is no way the drug dealing, drug addicted, out of control criminal parents can be made to see the value in anything past the next five minutes.

Solution? We tried to form another school that mandated parental involvement. The ACLU stepped in and you know the rest.
 
Howard, exactly. The anti-achievement culture is the worst threat to these kids' futures. The school has to become a high-achievement culture of its own. Unfortunately, right now improving urban schools often means changing the culture of the school, and that often means private schools.

The really sad part in the worst urban areas is that every parent who possibly can (and who cares) gets their children out of these schools, so then you are left with a sifting effect in which the kids who are left are the ones with either the most helpless or the most dysfunctional parents. This isn't new. In Philadelphia the parochial school system WAS the real school system for a very long period of time.

It doesn't surprise me at all that you do this, btw.
 
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