The Watchers Part 2: System Error
By Adam Crosthwaite
At what point did we accept ignorance into our lives? Don’t sit there with your jaw in your lap! Yes, we are all guilty of ignorance and in most cases accepting that ignorance as a way of life. For far too long people have sat back with their arms folded saying, “There is nothing that can be done about this. That is just the way it is.” whenever they see something wrong in society. Well sorry, that just is not good enough any more. The pattern of apathy in this world is reaching dangerous levels. As personal observation it would appear that people are slipping further and further into a state of deep apathy.
This commentary on the system error is the result of a paradox I am currently working my way through at this moment. Ironically enough it all started with a simple flower. You see there is a house on my way home from work. It sits on the corner down the street and smiles at oncoming traffic in the neighborhood, just an ordinary house with small block wall enclosing the back yard. My favorite part of this cheerful little house is the small patch of sunflowers peeking over the wall reaching toward the sun like my daughter does to me every time I pick her up out of her crib in the morning. A while back I drove past this house and for some strange reason I became horribly upset. For days I wrestled with this image in an attempt to make sense of my response to this flower.
Finally, after a few days of aggravating defeat at the hands of my own ignorance I chose to allow the answer to present itself to me in time. It was obvious to me that my previous training in grappling was not going to produce any solutions in this case. So I let it go and as I sat down to study my Tarot deck, the answer presented itself to me during a contemplation exercise my mentor had trained me in. In the Tarot deck we study by B.O.T.A. the sun is pictured with the Hebrew letter RESH.
RESH is the Key titled The Sun. Obviously there is a picture of the Sun situated top center. Just below it on both sides are twelve bright orange YODs matching the color of the Key itself. Right dead center of the key is a thirteenth YOD just below the Sun. This YOD seems to be a bridge or connection point for two children, on the left a boy and the right a girl, holding hands in middle of a circle on a lawn. Just behind them is a wall of stone, and guess what is peeking out over the top of the wall. Five happy little sunflowers! Four of the flowers are facing toward the viewer, but one has turned to face the sun, making for a rather peculiar image. Although this allotted me a clue and an opening for a revelation I still maintained my ignorant state until the next week when we all gathered for a Wednesday night meditation class and discussion.
As class began that night David asked one of his favorite questions, “What is on people’s minds tonight?” I couldn’t help it. I had to say something. I asked in reference to the picture on the RESH card, “Why is it every time I think about or see the one sunflower in Key 19 I get upset?” David turned with his poetic smile as only he can do and said, “Because ignorance is not a natural state of human consciousness.” The soft flutter of a wail as if a whoopee cushion was punctured told me my ego was not too fond of that statement. Ironically enough the Hebrew letter RESH means head, as if to say use the damn thing!
Once my question was put to satisfaction by my teacher I faced yet another paradox; a paradox that has now grown as I see the effects of a society in acceptance of being controlled. Everywhere I look I see people under controlled by vices through a means of ignorance, including the very people who claim freedom as they go to Bible school and still believe they are powerless to effect a positive change in their lives unless they get down on their knees. The tradition taught to us in Qabala teaches dominion, dominion over the self in order to effect a positive change in the world.
If ignorance is so despised by humans, then how is it that people have become so accepting of its common place amongst us? What lead to the complacent mind set so as to allow this epidemic to sweep across civilization overtaking life after life? Could it be that the public campaign for acceptance of people was misinterpreted by the masses to include situational barriers as well? I would like to believe this not to be the case. Unfortunately there is no evidence to support that this is not the case. Can I be as hopeful as to wish I am wrong in my observation? Most likely what is happening is the effects from the change over in education are finally catching up to us. Not too many people are catching on that the classical educational system was much more effective and produced a healthier society than this information system of education we are wading our way through today.
The main culprit in the devolution of our civilization is the educational system we have come to place our trust in. Since around the mid 1950’s it has been increasingly evident to many of those with the eyes to hear and ears to see that the past few decades have been a sham in terms of educational growth in America. Dr. Strickler introduced me to the term “DUMBING DOWN” in reference to the downward trend in education over the generations. The consensus from many conversations with others is that the bar has been lowered gradually over time to the point where many corporations are forced to close their doors forever because of the mistakes made by numerous administrative personnel. Although many of them have been corrupt and backward in their practices, the vast majority has been educationally stunted and lacks the much needed skills to acquire and then apply knowledge. This has lead to executive errors that cost billions of dollars everyday. As Dr. Strickler points out to his students, the key in any educational tradition is the application of knowledge. The sad truth is that in most cases today such skills that allow the transition of knowledge into understanding by way of application is just not taught any more. Information Theory has replaced knowledge. Progress is measured by test scores, not performance or application of knowledge.
One of the things that my dad used to tell me growing up was that my generation was not learning as much as his did in school. In fact he was highly concerned over the low standards by which I was learning. He would tell me that I would have to work twice as hard to be half as good. Now these are not his actual words, but I think you get the point. At that time I was just a kid and thought I knew better, needless to say I didn’t listen much. The most aggravating thing is seeing that he was right all this time. Today a Master’s Degree is at best the equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree by American standards in education and that may be stretching things a bit in many cases.
I sit in a room full of people three or even four generations ahead of mine every week during class with Dr. Strickler. These people possessed twice the knowledge that I do now when they were at my level of education. I hear David speak of some of the knowledge he gained in his education and I feel as if I have missed a great era in education. To sit in the classes that he did even in the first years of his undergraduate courses must have been amazing. To this day he uses the basic foundations of knowledge gained in his freshmen year in nearly every aspect of his teaching. He bridges for us a connection point to where we are at this point in history to that of the growth and in many cases lack of growth in the past.
Is it just me or does any one else see something wrong here?
Yet there is more to this equation than merely low standards. It is the acceptance of those standards as a baseline for a standard of life. In the last four classes I have attended in my current school year all of my teachers had the disheartening task of standing in front of the class and apologizing for the lack of substance to their curriculum. My school in its infinite wisdom has seen fit to lower the bar yet again. For years now the standard time frame of a class has been four hours a week for twelve weeks, even lower than the standards I grew up with in high school. Now they have reduced the classes to three hours a week for eight weeks. So instead of 48 hours of teaching we receive 24 hours of teaching. We are receiving half the education at more than double the price our teachers did! Think about that for a minute or two.
There are people training to teach our children who are spending thousands of dollars to learn all they need to know in 24 hours. Social workers, Behavioral Health Workers, Counselors, Business Executives and even Police Officers are being trained less than 50% as much today as they were ten years ago! As long as there is a profit to be made off of the ignorance of the masses we will continue to feed the bank accounts of the corporate share holders. That is until one of their students screws up and loses a quarter of a million dollars in five minutes. Yet that has not seemed to advocate a change even after the infamous ENRON scenario which has become an American cliché.
This is not the way to ensure a secure future for a country. In fact it is pretty much guaranteed that the system will collapse upon itself over time. There is a saying that Dr. Strickler showed me just recently while doing some research on the net. “Never attribute to malice that which may be attributed to stupidity.” The next day it occurred to me that the system has been in error for quite some time now and still remains in error. Be it out of malice or sheer stupidity, we have come to accept a lower standard of life. We have come to accept the system error without question as if these low standards were acceptable as common place.
It is a rare gift to hear from some of the other young students I speak with, especially in the Behavior Health field, that they are just as aware of this going on as the members of David’s meditation classes as well as the few lucid individuals out there that have the common sense to continue their own higher standard of education. Could there be a positive change on the horizon? Is the next generation going to rise out of the acquiescent society we have become and rebuild upon a foundation of knowledge versus information? Will the submission of knowledge and understanding halt and give way to growth in the coming years?
To accept anything without question is foolish. To believe we have no power to change or correct the system is just as bad. I find it interesting that education has been ignored more and more in the political arena these days, but I guess that can be expected when a society is as accepting of barriers as we are. The time has come for a new approach. I watch and listen to David, Dianne, Christine, Wendy and Glen talk about their education and experiences I wonder what will happen with what I am almost ashamed to call my generation when we are in charge.
Perhaps it is in the opening of the mouths that sit both in the front as well as the back of class room that will effect a positive change. Until then we will be facing the onslaught of ignorance within the generations to come. As this last Memorial Day passed I remember something Dr. Strickler said last year. He told us in class one day that he remembered those of our tradition who went before us and sacrificed so much to pave the way for our generations to follow. A tradition rich with knowledge strengthened by the experience of applying that knowledge in the real world is what we should be experiencing in our public education system, not this Information Theory crap we have been spoon fed.
In short, the system is in error. I also repeat the words of my Mentor once again. “Ignorance is not a natural state of human consciousness.” If you felt something within you as those words were read, good. Pay attention to that feeling and do something about it. If you did not, that’s okay; we all have a lot of work to do on ourselves. What can be done? Learn as much as you can as often as you can. Take a few courses on a subject you may not understand, before government funding for continuing education gets cut. Pick up a book, and no the TV guide does not count! Just because you are not sitting in a classroom does not mean you have to stop being a student. Take it from me; the kid in the back of the classroom shooting spit wads at the teacher, “a little change goes a long way”. I can’t remember where I first heard those words but they have come to mean a lot to me in the last four years since I started college.
May we all be as blessed with the tradition and knowledge of those who have come before us.