When I was a kid and working on my homework, I had a habit of asking mom how to spell a word. She was adamant that I look up the word. I don’t recall her ever helping me in that way. After a while I got so used to looking up the words that it became a pleasant pastime. This is just one example of my learning style. The other important thing is that I was, and still am, a “slow learner.” I was not gifted with memorization or even strong reading skills. I relied, and still do, on intuitive searching and seeing if something “fits” in my view of the world. I was, at best, a C✛ student in high school. I had to take “remedial” math and English just to be admitted to architecture school. My dad and mom never judged my grades—always saying just do your best. I am still on the upward sweep of learning how to learn. I am even realizing that recently I am even suffering a bit from dyslexia.
I remember reading Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s The Medium is the Massage in the 1970s (I still have a copy–the image is a photo of my tattered copy.) In the introduction A. N. Whitehead is quoted: “The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.” McLuhan’s main thesis was that “societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication.” This was written nearly 50 years ago and is even more poignant now. We are wallowing in “communication” that is devoid of truthful grounding. We are swirling in a time of instant change and bewilderment—with conspiracy theories gaining traction in “normal” channels.
Again Mr Whitehead: “Insistence on clarity at all costs is based on sheer superstition as to the mode in which human intelligence functions. Our reasonings grasp at straws for premises and floats on gossamers for deductions.”
We are sitting in the eye of a major political storm. It is easy to be despondent and think that what is now will be forever. We can get sucked into the desperate feeling that what we are seeing now will be all we will ever see. As I mentioned to a dear friend recently:
We each carry our own particular way of seeing the world and seek to make sense of what does fit that view. Some of us are prone to blue skies—others to dark stormy skies. We can be swept up in the anger, confusion and disorientation of the chaos of the moment. What we can deduce from all of this madness—fuel by greed and avarice—will ultimately be up to our children to decipher. I am not trying to minimize the gravity of the current situation nor the importance of this election. I am saying that it will be best if we take the long view and work, in our own tiny ways, to change the things we can. If we all act honestly and with love towards everyone maybe, just maybe, we will see a new world that celebrates uniqueness and mutual respect. Let’s take the long way home and kick the shortcuts out the door.