I am a learner. And a teacher. This video reminded me of these facts about my life. It also reminded me what learning is all about and how important it is—or how important it should be—to each one of us, individually, and to the nation, as a collective.
I grew up in small towns in Texas. My upbringing was “typical,” meaning that my family, those people who got first shot at shaping me, were fairly conventional in their thinking and behavior. When I got old enough, I was sent to public schools and had an early education that was structured around official state curricula. I did well, made top grades, and was recognized as a young person with potential. This recognition meant nothing more than I had successfully acquired the knowledge and skills the authorities had wanted me to acquire.
I graduated and went off to a little school called Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. I enrolled in the normal courses students are supposed to take. Then, in my second year, I did something that would change my life forever. I had a chance to choose an elective, so I registered for a class called Introduction to Philosophy.
Taking that first philosophy course was the beginning of the end of my childhood. Up until that moment, my intellect had been carefully managed by all sorts of authority figures, none of whom were interested in exposing me to anything more than mainstream thinking, which is another way of saying “conventional wisdom.” As a child, I had been led to believe that the world of ideas was only so big, when, in fact, it was actually infinitely large. It’s like I had spent my entire lifetime locked in a little room and had been led to believe that that there was nothing more than this tiny space. Philosophy showed me the door leading out of that room. Once I opened it, I could see how imprisoned I had been.
America, in its political thinking, is a bit like I was before I was exposed to philosophy. Too many of its citizens believe that the way things have always been done is the only way things can be done. These worshippers at the altar of the status quo are holding the nation back.
In the upcoming election, Bernie Sanders is playing the role my first philosophy teacher played. He is exposing the nation to ideas and truths that are certain to make some people uncomfortable. But America needs someone to drag it into the twenty-first century. The nation needs to grow and expand its thinking in many areas. Bernie Sanders appears to be the person with enough insight, courage, and conviction to accomplish this noble task.
Thom Hartmann used the term “revolution” in the introduction to the clip I’ve included, but I think “evolution” is the more appropriate word. Sanders is trying to help the nation evolve in its thinking. Of course, once this evolution occurs, a revolution is bound to follow.