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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Then it All Went Wrong

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It really did. The Industrial Revolution transformed our world. It shaped government, economics, education, religion, and nearly everything else about our world. We found ways to make things faster, cheaper, more long-lasting, more interchangeable, and more profitable.

We went from a world where everything was hand-crafted as a unique item. Every bowl, gun, book, ship, house, and saddle were unique. They cost a lot of money, time, and effort to produce which helped to keep the poor poor and concentrated power in the hands of the few rich. But with the Industrial Revolution we learned how to replicate identical copies of a prototype.

So we tried to replicate identical copies of the United States government around the world.

We tried to replicate copies of intelligent people through our educational system.

We tried to replicate copies of our religious leaders through our churches.

While you can easily copy a tire, mass-produce it, and end up with better, cheaper results, it's actually detrimental to try to do the same thing with government, intelligence, and religion. We took the good of the Industrial Revolution and made it a bad thing by over-applying it.

Sir Ken Robinson points out that schools are killing rather than nurturing creativity. One of his main complaints is: “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

Yet we've designed an educational system that systematically punishes students for doing exactly what they need to do in order to learn and grow.

How messed up is that?

People, and the systems made up of people, cannot be replicated. Human beings are not interchangeable parts to be swapped out on a whim. With each person, with each generation, we need to provide opportunities for growth and change. We need to provide opportunities to doubt, question, and grow.

The current generation needs to take up the ideas of racism and civil rights and examine them anew. They can't rely on the conclusions of the past. The current generation needs to work through the deepest questions of religion and philosophy for themselves.

We should, absolutely, interact with the great thinkers who have gone before. But they aren't molds into which we inject our own minds to be conformed to their way of thinking. Rather they are guides who've blazed a trail for us. It's on us, however, to walk the path--or to choose to blaze our own trail.

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