Thursday, September 27, 2007

There are mornings when I open the blog and wonder what more I can say. Two people slightly askew from each other in upbringing and experience can see things so differently... even becoming polar opposite. If you have no fundamental basis for judgment, you can begin to believe anything... Like what your politicians say on television for example. You begin to lose all basis for personal examination of fact and reality, and in doing so, you also lose your power as citizen and as human being. When you come face to face with people who live in such distortion of reality from lack of engagement with it, it can become a matter for personal depression and discouragement.

In making the weather vanes in the 6th and 6th grade classes last week, I was reminded of a book I have mentioned before, Defining the Wind by Scott Huler, which is about the history of the development of the Beaufort Scale. That was in an earlier time in which all citizens were encouraged to take up the challenge of scientific investigation. Each might become an expert on the wind by comparing what he or see saw in its effects as compared to a simple scale of observable phenomena. There were versions of the Beaufort scale for landsmen in which the wind might be measured by its effect on a leaf or the smoke rising from a chimney, and of course there was a version which allowed the common sailor to read the wind by its effect on the sails of his ship.

One of the interesting things in making our weather vanes was finding the balance point, the point at which the shaft of the vane should be attached to the base for smooth friction free rotation. Each weather vane, being student designed and student made, had a different balance point, requiring careful observation, marking and drilling for attachment.

Most schools and homes are not training our children to become successful observers of reality. We put their noses in books or in front of the television or computer screen and expect them to derive their opinions from experts. Is it any wonder that we have such people at all levels of government who are allowed to distort our perspectives toward their own purposes?

In Norman Greenspan's new book it is admitted that the war in Iraq is and always was about oil. There is strong evidence that the current administration had plans for that invasion long before 9/11 and that it was never about stopping terror in the first place but about gaining secure access to Iraqi oil and profit for a few select corporations at great expense to the American people. There is monumental shame in their hidden motives, and monumental shame in that we, the American people have allowed ourselves to be manipulated and damaged in this manner.

We all need the opportunity to learn from reality. Each of us needs to take time to be involved in the shaping of the world's essential materials if we are to be grounded in reality. Think of it as a form of inoculation. You pass a plane across a board and observe the curl of wood that arises from the mouth. That mouth won't lie about the sharpness of the steel, nor will it lie about direction of grain. It won't lie about your skill or lack of skill in its use. The scent that arises in the air won't lie about the species of the wood. Hold up a wet thumb. It won't lie about whether or not the wind is blowing. But allow yourself and your children to become anesthetized to reality by television, the distortions of the media and of politics, and you get a world pretty much like the one we have now. And if you haven't noticed, it is becoming a very dangerous place.

There is reason for despair and discouragement, but that is a reason to get to work. Join me if you can. The photo above is of Will finding the balance point on his weather vane.

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