When we consider all of the problems that we have in the Black community, if anyone asked me what we are in most dire need of to resolve those problems, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second – I’d say education. Education is the key to resolving high unemployment, because it would enable us to create our own jobs; it is the key to reducing crime in the community, because if we educate ourselves properly we’ll become enlightened enough to recognize that simply gathering the most material “things” is not what makes life worthwhile; and finally, with the proper kind of education we’d stop worrying about what other people think of us and start focusing on what we think of ourselves.
But with that said, it is also important to never confuse education – which I define as the science of efficient and independent thought – with indoctrination, the mere ability to regurgitate the thoughts of others – and it’s our tendency to do just that. That is the source of many of our problems, in not just the Black community, but in society as a whole.
Our universities and various institutions of higher learning are great when it comes to teaching the science of technology – math, engineering, medicine, and other technical pursuits – but they fall far short of the mark when it comes to educating students in the pure, efficient, and independent ability to think. That’s why we have so many Ph.Ds running around saying things that essentially amount to, “Obama is un-American – he’s engaged in a socialist plot to protect my family.” These people are unable to differentiate between the theoretical – their emotional, and thereby, erroneous, association of the word “socialist” with evil – from the practical – society’s need to put policies in place that will promote the overall needs of the people, and the nation as a whole. A given policy may be the perfect solution for one of the nation’s biggest problems, for example, but because someone labeled it socialist, many will fight it to the bitter end, because they’ve been told that the solution constitutes socialism, and socialism is evil – even though, with all of their education, they can’t explain what makes it evil.
Thus, many of the people who we accept as “experts” in what I call the “speculative arts” – psychology, philosophy, sociology, political science, economics, etc. – routinely engage in reckless and unwarranted speculation as though it’s fact. That’s why we can’t assess, predict, or control human behavior with the precision that we can land a spacecraft on the moon. If a physicist, biologist, or medical doctor engaged in the kind of reckless speculation as these people, they’d be run out of the profession.
One of the primary reasons that many of these people are so reckless in their thinking is, while it is true that these “highly educated” individuals have spent years in various classrooms, they haven’t been educated in the area of efficient and independent thought. Instead, they’ve spent their entire educational careers being indoctrinated into embracing the beliefs of long-dead White men. Now, that isn’t to say that the thoughts of the thinkers of the past shouldn’t be reviewed, but their thoughts shouldn’t be idolized and considered superior to our own, which is generally the case. As a result, many of our so-called intellectuals come out the other end of our most prestigious universities not as powerful independent thinkers, but as celebrated, but shallow-minded, regurgitators of other people’s thoughts.
A perfect example of how our educational system is failing society in its responsibility to prepare the leaders in our society to think can be seen in the case of Rep. Michelle Bachmann. In 1988 Ms. Bachmann received an LL.M in tax law from the William and Mary School of Law, and she worked as a tax attorney prior to entering congress. Now, I don’t know what kind of tax lawyer she was, but I’m confident that most of the people reading this document will agree that a deep and independent thinker this lady is not. The very same is true of not just many, but the majority of people that we accept as “educated” based on their resume and credentials alone. If that were not the case, with all of the Ph.Ds being conferred across this country every year, one would think we’d live in a much more enlightened society. George W. Bush is a product of Yale. Granted, he’s not a Ph.D, but still . . .
My point is this – the primary way that the establishment manages to control and bamboozle the people is by trotting out selected people that they want us to listen to, and then offering up their resume and credentials as justification for why we should hang on to their every word. And since most of us have been conditioned to be in awe of the reputations of the various prestigious institutions of higher learning – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. – the establishment can simply attach the name of one of these institutions to the person they’re promoting, and more often than not, we’ll simply suspend all reason and critical thought and blindly accept whatever the person says as gospel. And in many cases, even when our common sense says, “Hey, what he just said doesn’t make sense,” we’ll often simply chalk it up to our not being “educated enough” to grasp the nuances of his or her reasoning. That’s exactly how we get played, and we often pay these people ridiculous speaking fees for the privilege of being played.
You can go into many courtrooms across this country and routinely witness two so-called experts taking completely opposite points of view on almost any subject, because they’re saying what they’re being paid to say. That’s a flaw of human nature. So if you want to be enlightened, never blindly accept other people’s points of view. Take the time to do the research and connect the dots for yourself.
We should never give anyone else’s ability to think priority over our own. Simply because a person has more degrees than you do, that doesn’t mean that he or she is more intelligent than you are. If we take a brain surgeon with an IQ of 120, and a high school dropout with an IQ of 140, while the brain surgeon may have more knowledge at his immediate disposal than the high school dropout, he’ll never be as smart. Thus, in a situation where all things are equal, the high school dropout will be able to connect the dots much more efficiently than the brain surgeon every time. Dr. Ben Carson is an excellent example of that. The guy is a celebrated brain surgeon, but I know many high school dropout who could pick political ideas apart on one brain cell. He’s obviously been taught WHAT to think, not HOW to think.
So while we should always attempt to enhance our education, if circumstances prevent us from attending an institution of higher learning, we should always remember this – knowledge is free, and there’s just as much knowledge on Google, or at the corner library, as there is at Harvard University. So we should dedicate our lives to obtaining that knowledge, because once we have it, it doesn’t matter where it came from. In fact, while Harvard can expose you to knowledge, it cannot educate you. Education is a solitary pursuit, so the only one who can truly educate you, is yourself.
Thus, whenever you begin to feel self-conscious over your lack of formal education, you should remember that Socrates – the father of modern thought – was a hood rat. Look it up, and begin to educate yourself.
Eric L. Wattree