I regret not volunteering my time with a literacy advocacy group, when this was requested of me some years ago.
I scoffed at the idea that knowledge would make any difference, I was somewhat erudite at the time and I couldn’t see myself learning anything because there didn’t seem to be anything important to learn from reading narratives. I’d done that since childhood.
Academics have proved a mythical bell curve in which the ability for intelligent cognition for 98% of the population has modest mental capacity and 2% are bright. Regardless of our rational ability, however, we are not so differentiated in terms of emotional cognition, perhaps because this is more difficult to measure scientifically. The term, emotional intelligence is itself confusing.
The nature of agency makes us territorial and self-centered and emotional cognition tells us how anything encountered may impact our selves. From this set of responses, we weave the tapestry of our understanding of ourselves and the world which makes up personal narratives.
Like title insurance, which supports the fiction of ownership of land and buildings so rent is paid to the persona named on the title, our identity cards and numbers set the boundaries of our individual agency just as title insurance guarantees that taxes will be paid by the person named on the title and that that person alone can say who uses the property. Can you imagine how the Homestead Act affected the native population?
Narrative fiction has value for readers. Popular fiction and nonfiction are generally more likely to be an opiate for the masses, guidance for agency. A popular narrative annoying me today is the myth of democracy in America. The election of a president and congress is produced at a cost of hundreds of millions, mostly in media purchases. Every 4 years a feeding trough is set up for media companies. The myth of democracy would collapse if those people over 60 chose not to vote. We should try that next time.
That’s the reason for candidates like Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders, to give the appearance of rational choices about salient differences. The other two candidates, the real candidates, are ambiguously related to concerns of most people. It’s not that these candidates are selected because their notions are irrelevant. Electoral government is based on the idea that a person can represent the interests of a number of others and as the size of a constituency grows, the less likely it is they will be represented. Plato felt 5000 is a maximum number and we number 400 million. On the evidence, it’s absurd and the result is that people complain that congress doesn’t reflect the interests of the electorate?
Unfortunately because the actual control of government is concentrated in a power structure and the power of a corporate body this size is immense, it looks like a no-exit march to environmental destruction now because the priorities those holding the power are thoughtless of the effect on the many.
We’ve been losing an arms race to ourselves. There are a few choices but they all move the focus of public expenditure from military, technology and policing to social welfare. To accomplish this only requires that we tell the truth that politics is local. The most corrupt aspects of our justice system are local. All social services are locally administered. Governance should logically be local and Plato’s model will probably work.
It’s symptomatic of a recent failure of our form of government that an unprecedented number of formerly deployed servicemen are committing suicide, including some whose, work was operating drones from a base thousands of miles from action. If my employees commit suicide as a result of their employment, you’d shut down the business. A crowd of people dressed in black would surround my place of business, carrying torches, screaming, like Dr. Frankenstein.