Teach Your Children Well


Give a Lift to the Future

What’s our greatest resource for the future–a future that you and I will not see and cannot possibly preconceive? Nuclear technology? Solar power? Rich farmland? The abundance of the sea? Low interest rates? No, none of the above, our greatest resource is our children and grandchildren because the future of human society would not be possible without them.

They are our treasure and the legacy that we bequeath to the world. They are the ones obliged to undo all of the damage we have done to the planet and all the living things on it. To some of our descendants will fall the monumental task of dealing with and–within the realm of the possible–undoing the wrongheadedness that 2,000 years of human folly have planted in the heads and hearts of people around the world.

So, the least we can do is to arm them with the knowledge and values to affront that awesome challenge. I think it’s clear that we have to start when they’re little shavers. Conventional wisdom holds that the most formative period of a person’s life is the first five years. Finnish education experts have recently extended this phenomenon to the age of eight, and the schools they have based on this realization are the most successful in the world. What do they teach in those first eight years? Mainly they teach creative play and the art of living together harmoniously.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic come later. First, they master kindness, patience, generosity, good manners, honesty and the sanctity of life, and not just human life. Honesty is critically important. Lies are such powerful tools in the hands of the unscrupulous. It is not a coincidence that Finland has the most honest government in the world.

Please don’t be tempted to think that this create-honest-citizens approach is anywhere near the default setting in the world’s schools. They reflect the often-questionable values of their own societies, values that can be retrograde and inhumane and tend to create citizens in that mold. The Finnish model, today, can only be considered utopian.

Teachers Mold the Clay of Childhood

Insofar as excellent teachers are the key to nurturing skeptical children, they are one of the most important professional sectors in any society and should be considered–and paid–as such. Finnish standards for teachers are extremely high and their salaries are on the level with those of doctors. Most of us have had both great teachers and mediocre ones, so I won’t bore you explaining the difference. Suffice it to say that the knowledge and values that teachers plant is immortal, transferred down through generations of children destined to become adults and have children of their own. Of course, teachers, especially the great ones, need the freedom to teach, a freedom that is being curtailed regularly in the most “democratic” countries in the world. Not only that but as teachers usually don’t determine their schools’ curricula, often they don’t have the opportunity to exercise their freedom. This happens most often in schools with religious agendas. Dogma always trumps truth in these settings.

Then there’s the problem of skewed textbooks. James W. Loewen dedicates his 1995 book, Lies My Teacher Told Me, a critical review of 12 American history textbooks, with this: “Dedicated to all American history teachers who teach against their textbooks.” Loewen’s 383-page book includes an impressive 56 pages of notes and bibliography and makes a detailed, ironclad case for the fact that none of these texts for American 11th graders provides a clear and complete picture of the reality of American history. Instead, they all cherry-pick the facts necessary to portray the United States as a near Utopia while leaving out all the less savory details, and there are not a few. For example, they omit the fact that Christopher Columbus, that quintessential hero for Americans, was guilty of genocide in Haiti, enslaving and killing between a million and eight million Arawak Indians. Ten of the 12 textbooks also skim over the most scabrous events of the 1960s and 70s. Loewen quotes Vietnam war veteran, George Swiers:

If we do not speak of it, others will surely rewrite the script. Each of the body bags, all of the mass graves, will be reopened and their contents abracadabraed into a noble cause.

Give Them a Clear Head

I am fond of saying that we are all victims of the lies we were told when we were children. It’s not only what we were told–essentially old wives’ tales and false magical thinking–but, perhaps more importantly, how we were taught to think. Instead of being taught to observe, question, doubt and investigate, we were gently coerced into just believing authority, without questioning “authority’s” agenda. Once that mode of thought is inculcated in a child’s thinking it’s unlikely that he or she will ever escape from it. This directed thinking, I maintain, is the root of most of the ills of societies around the world. Although thinking directed by authority annuls the child’s intellectual freedom it does make them future “productive members of society,” always under the watchful eyes of one authority or another. This imposed priority is the basis for untold repression, lost creativity and unfulfilled lives around the world.

As I see it the two most dangerous sets of beliefs foisted on children are revealed religion and lockstep nationalism, each with its own authorities, some of which children are induced to consider God-given and therefore “infallible.” Both of these belief systems, one religious, the other political, have something in common. They’re both “faith-based.” If you have never seen God, and he has never spoken to you or touched you, the only access you have to him is the faith that has been instilled in you by kindly clergymen with terrifying agendas.

Political indoctrination follows hard on the heels of religious guidance. To believe you are superior to someone else because you were born here and they were born there is objective insanity. But if you’re taught that by figures of authority it becomes just harmless, natural nationalism. You love your country, don’t you? But that harmless nationalism soon mutates into patriotism which will give your authority figures a moral license to send you abroad to kill those “other” people whenever they deem it “necessary.” Children who have developed a critical sense and the courage of their own convictions are less vulnerable to the nationalism/patriotism ploy and less likely to be manipulated into the inhuman acts that abound around the world today.

Wellbeing Does Wonders

Besides knowledge, young people need stable, loving home relationships. That is virtually impossible in societies afflicted with unfairness and inequality. First-world countries–not only Finland–assure all their citizens a living wage, health care and free education. Any country that doesn’t do so is necessarily degrading its youth and its future. A country that converts young people into fodder for the permanent war machine and profit-making prisons is on the fast track for the dungheap of history.

You might enjoy listening to this: https://youtu.be/EkaKwXddT_I
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Playing the U.S. American Game of Rogue States/Regime Change–2/2


Sowing Chaos for Fun and Profit

It doesn’t take a lot of resources or imagination to wreak massive social and political chaos in someone else’s country. Washington operatives just have to pay off a few crooked local politicians—there’s no shortage of those–and call upon the CIA to put its coup techniques to work. After more than half a century of running these operations the CIA has got it down to a sinister routine. Just organize and finance a right-wing “opposition,” put pressure on the media, and encourage (organize and finance) anti-government demonstrations. Bingo! Another impertinent little country (with a democratically elected government or not; that’s irrelevant) privatizes its sovereign wealth and joins NATO.

“Privatize?” That means selling off their mines and oil fields, farms and forests, industries and even housing to US American banks and vulture funds at market prices. You can imagine how the “market” looks after a couple of decades of CIA black ops. The first stages of this process are currently underway in Venezuela and Iran. If all goes well they will soon join the long list of U.S. “client states.”

They Don’t Always Win

It’s only fair to point out that these US American regime-change programs don’t always work out as planned. When they fail it’s usually thanks to the sheer bloody-mindedness of local populations that resent being invaded and—above all—humiliated by invaders from “advanced countries.” The history of these failed regime-change attempts goes back at least to the Russian revolution. According to William Blum, “By the summer of 1918 some 13,000 American troops could be found active in the newly-born Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Two years and thousands of casualties later, the American troops left, having failed in their mission to ‘strangle at its birth’ the Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill put it. Aside from the strangler’s fantasies, was the British-American invasion of Russia in any way justifiable? Not really.

Flash forward to 1954. Iran was another egregious example of US American regime-change treachery, one that has left a bitter legacy and wounds that are still not closed. Iran’s democratically-elected president, Mohammed Mossadegh, came under siege in part because of his nationalization of British oil interests. The British-engineered international boycott of Iran failed and in 1952 they turned to the Americans for help. Using a possible but highly-improbable “Soviet threat” as a pretext, President Truman encouraged Iran’s former monarch, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, to issue decrees dismissing Mossadegh and replacing him with a general who had been imprisoned by the British during World War II for his collaboration with the Nazis.

It was a simple matter for the American ambassador, Henderson, the CIA, and the American military mission in Iran to cobble together an anti-Mossadegh mob marching in the streets of Tehran, while at the same time a Long-Live-the-Shah demonstration was pouring out of the city’s ancient bazaar. The clash between the two precipitated a nine-hour street battle that caused some 300 dead and many more wounded before Mossadegh’s defenders were finally defeated. The coup d’etat was a fait accompli. Was there any objective reason for the American overthrow of Mossadegh? We’re talking about toppling the elected government of a sovereign nation with which the United States was not at war. Of course, there wasn’t, beyond high-handed US American delusions of grandeur.

The Iranian Dragon’s Egg Hatches

It was only 25 years later, in 1979, when a group of Iranian students, who had apparently not forgotten the U.S. role in overthrowing Mossadegh nor its longstanding support of the (recently ousted) Shah, took 52 American hostages in the American embassy and held them for 444 days. The incident was complicated by a botched rescue attempt, known as Operation Eagle Claw, which resulted in the accidental deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian, as well as the destruction of two helicopters.

Given these antecedents, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand the profoundly resentful and belligerent attitude of the United States today vis a vis Iran, the outcome of which remains to be seen.

To whom do you turn when your backward little banana republic comes under bombardment from CIA planes? Guatemala tried everybody—the U.N., the Organization of American States, neighboring countries, the world press…” but no help was forthcoming. Dwight Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, and Alan Dulles had decided that Jacobo Arbenz, the only democratically-elected president of Central America, was “communist” and had to be neutralized. He was ousted in June of 1954. What does it take to brand a country’s leader “communist.” Nothing much, really, just stick a label on him.

Do You Remember Vietnam?

Then there’s Vietnam, whose victory after 14 years of war against the most powerful military machine in the world, should have been a once-and-for-all lesson for ambitious US American policymakers but, unfortunately, they never learned. I can still see the television images of sailors tipping Huey helicopters off the deck of an aircraft carrier to make room for the choppers evacuating American personnel and Vietnamese collaborators from Saigon in 1975.

Here’s Newsweek reminiscing about the event 40 years later:

Just over 40 years ago, on April 23, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced the Vietnam War was “finished as far as America is concerned.” Military involvement had come to an end, but the U.S. still faced a crucial task: the safe evacuation of Americans who remained in Saigon, including the then-U.S. ambassador, Graham Martin.

After Tan Son Nhut Airport was bombed heavily on April 29, and the last two Americans were killed in action, the evacuation had to continue with helicopters. “It was an absolute mess,” Colin Broussard, a marine assigned to Martin’s personal security detail, told the Chicago Tribune in 2005. “We knew immediately when we saw the airfield that the fixed-wing operation was done.”

Over the course of April 29 and into the following morning, Operation Frequent Wind transported more than 1,000 Americans and more than 5,000 Vietnamese out of the city. The 19-hour operation involved 81 helicopters and is often called the largest helicopter evacuation on record.


U.S. Navy personnel aboard the U.S.S. Blue Ridge push a helicopter into the sea off the coast of Vietnam in order to make room for more evacuation flights from Saigon on April 29, 1975. The helicopter had carried Vietnamese fleeing Saigon as North Vietnamese forces closed in on the capital.

What about Iraq and Afghanistan?

Then there are the Iraq and Afghanistan experiences. The gratuitous Iraq adventure was only “successful” in terms of massive destruction and human suffering including wholesale infant mortality. The Afghan mission was justified by an American-sponsored Muslim guerilla fighter hiding in a cave. Imagine that. Uncle Sam certainly never expected still to be fighting in Afghanistan 17 years on. The jauntily-named “Operation Enduring Freedom” may be enduring but it’s surely not freedom; who writes this dreck, anyway?

We don’t have time or space here to discuss the cases of Cuba (Cuba, a rogue state?!) nor Chile, perhaps the most egregious of all. So I won’t bore you with more regime-change operations fathered (or mothered, if you prefer) by the world’s premier rogue state. I trust you get the picture. The question that remains is: How will it end? I can answer that. It will end with eventual world domination. Unless someone comes up with a better idea.

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