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Harrison Bergeron

April 13, 2007 11:11 AM

For those that have never heard the name:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Bergeron

It’s a short story written by Kurt Vonnegut that has been on my mind for years and years and years but I could never remember the name of.

The story has stuck with me for years because it’s a perfect example of the worst that can happen if we indulge the “everyone has to be equal” mentality. I’m not talking about race or gender but skill and ability.

If you’ve never read the story I highly suggest it. The story is in several books and is available online as well. Takes about 5 minutes to read - if that.

The gist of the story is that it’s a future where everybody is equal. Those that are above average are handicapped in some way until they are average.

I can’t express how close we are to this future. Nor can I express how poor that future would be.

Not one person on the planet is the same an any other person on the planet. So why do we think that it will ever be possible to make us all equal?

It’s the same problem I have with “faith based initiatives”. Faith, BY DEFINITION, is a wholly internal thing. That means that it’s DIFFERENT for each person. The moment it leaves the internals of that person or persons it becomes something else. An expression of their faith? Almost certainly. But not their faith. And the moment it becomes a requirement that others follow their faith it becomes a mistake and evil of the highest order.

If you want people to follow your faith then lead by example. If people seek to know more about what you believe they will ask. If you want to spread your faith do things that will make them ask about it. Good things not negative things.

Remember “Field of Dreams”? “If you build it they will come.” It’s more true than you might imagine. By following your faith to the best of your ability and doing good things you will likely attract people to you that want to know more.

But know this also - even if you explain your faith to them and they take it onto themselves it STILL WILL NOT BE YOUR FAITH. Why? Because they are different internally than you. So don’t be surprised when they don’t follow your faith exactly as you’ve taught it to them. ;-)

Do you see now why forcing your faith and your ideas on other people makes no sense to me? Why waste time on an effort that will never give you the end result you desire?

My daughter is autistic. About medium-level so she will likely learn to cope with it as she grows older. (I’m hoping for much more than that but that’s a different story.) She gets the help she needs at school because of No Child Left Behind.

This law is quite flawed because it ignores the needs of the above-average and average to focus on the children with special needs. The problem with this is that when it comes down to it ALL children have SOME sort of special need. It may only be transitory but there is no child that doesn’t go through school having a problem with some subject.

What we need is a modified version of this law that:

1) Ensures that the money to handle special needs “above and beyond” does not break the taxpayers/district backs.
2) Ensures that EVERY child gets the help they need - average, below average, or above average.
3) Ensures that the growth of children is according to their own skills and abilities NOT a standardized pattern.
4) Ensures that each child is actually able to demonstrate what they’ve learned - not just memorize answers.
5) Ensures that the onus of the growth of the child is on the parent NOT the school system.

As usual I’m sure I’ve missed a few things but those are the big ones that come to mind.

Too many people want to just ignore these problems and think that “the government should do something” but I’ve got news for them - they ARE the government. They ARE the people responsible and THEY should be doing something.

I’m talking to people about this every day. I’m planning on what to teach my daughter as she grows. I’m making sure that the school system doesn’t take more control than it already has. I’m...making...sure. Me. What are you doing about the problem?




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