Thursday, May 18, 2006

Brutally Honest Rant - 05/17/06

Brutally Honest Audio Rant: Connecting The Dots
Audio Transcripts

[Start Program]

(Computer – Introduction)
(Music intro – "American Idiot Remix" – by Green Day and David Matthews 2)

Good evening, and welcome to this week’s Brutally Honest Rant. I’m David Matthews 2, writer of the weekly online column Brutally Honest.

As I’m doing this rant, it’s the middle of May. We’re well into the graduation season. This is the time when the young generation graduate from either high school or college and either head off for higher education or join the workforce. This is the time when we are inundated with graduation speeches made by actors and politicians and so-called intellectuals… and yes even some members from the air-fluffed, ego-driven media. And these people will get in front of the podium and talk about the challenges of the world and how THEY need to answer those challenges and to use what they know to CHANGE the world.

And you know what? A lot of what these paid mouthpieces… these hired soothsayers… will say will go in one ear and out the other!

You know why? Because it really doesn’t apply to them!

Change the world? Right the wrongs? Solve the problems of the world? Fuggetaboutit!

How the hell do you expect people to be able to change the world when most of them will be trying to pay off their college tuition loans for the next twenty years?

Changing the world isn’t exactly high up on the priority list of most graduates. You want to know what is? WORK. Money! Being able to transform those years of education into gainful employment so they can pay off those expensive loans. And maybe… just maybe… getting enough coin together to have a life and buy a piece of that Great American Dream that we keep on hearing about. That’s usually what’s high up on the list… and if it isn’t then it will be once those bills start coming in.

BUT that doesn’t sound too altruistic, does it? Here you have institutions of education full of people who are full of theories about how the world SHOULD be, working in places where they don’t HAVE to really put those theories to the test. They’d like to think that they’re molding and shaping the next Presidents of the United States, not the next bunch of Enron executives… although given the current and previous residents of the White House there’s really not much of a difference between the two. Thus they use that brief public spotlight of their glorious institution to continue to spread those glorious dreams of how the world SHOULD be, and what their graduates SHOULD be doing after spending all of that time and money in their institution.

And of course those highly paid big-name speakers that show up and get their honorary degree along with that big fat check of theirs are really there to help give that institution some public credibility. It’s basically an endorsement with robes and tassels.

Ironic isn’t it? Just past the philanthropic words of these institutions are the purely self-centered mercenary interests that really keep them going from year to year.

But one of the things that sort of annoy me about education is that all too often we are focused not necessarily with the process but with the results. We’re interested in the correct answers. That’s why students get the Cliffs Notes version of books instead of the real thing. They just boil things down to the key important parts, which would be needed for tests. It’s almost like getting the answers.

Let’s get brutally honest here… one of the real problems that we have with our society isn’t a matter not knowing what the answers are, but being TOLD what those answers are instead of actually connecting the dots on our own and putting two and two together. We go through the education system and people are interested in RESULTS, not really how they got there, or of what to do with the results now that they have them. Sure, understanding the essentials of any subject matter is important, but that’s just the first step. Now that you know the basics, you have to figure out how to APPLY them.

And what happens in the real world? We end up with people who don’t really KNOW what is right or wrong using THEIR own definitions, because they don’t have any. They simply follow someone else’s definitions, whether that other person is a politician or a religious leader or a talk show host. They pick up the bullet points and talking points from the talking heads much like they used to get the Cliffs Notes. They get the ten second sound bytes from the alphabet soup media and think that it’s all of the information they really need! And I’m not talking about JUST the liberals or JUST the conservatives… both groups are just as guilty of this. They don’t want you to think. They just want you to listen and OBEY.

Well I have a pop quiz for everyone, young and old. It’s a three-part quiz, and only YOU have the answers to these questions.

Here’s the first quiz:

For those of you who are convinced that being rich is evil, I want you to take a good long and hard look at the people that are complaining the loudest about the rich. Who are they? What do they do for a living? How do THEY live their lives? Where do these people go when the media lights are off them? And why is it that corporate executives get vilified for making millions of dollars, but so-called "professional athletes" can make just as much money and people don’t bat an eyelash over it?

Here’s the second quiz:

For those of you who wear your religion on your sleeve and think that the whole world should share your beliefs whenever and wherever you go, I want you to go back to the New Testament and read up about a group of people called the Pharisees. Find out what they did to earn the ire of a certain travelling carpenter’s son, and what this travelling carpenter’s son recommended people to do so they won’t be mistaken for a Pharisee. Then compare that to some of today’s religious leaders who own multimillion dollar buildings, can afford air-conditioned dog houses, and own diamond mines in Africa and find out where these people would REALLY stand in the eyes of that same travelling carpenter’s son based on those words.

Here’s the third quiz, and I’ll start it off with an actual definition from Webster’s Dictionary:

1: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

Now for those of you who claim to be STRONG patriots, I want you to compare that definition to the actions of the past fifteen years by our government – both under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – and ask yourself if those actions fit any part of the definition I just gave you from Webster’s Dictionary. Compare that definition to the PATRIOT Act, to Bill Clinton’s "Know Your Customer" program, to the NSA’s wiretapping programs, to the drug laws, and to the chaotic rules in the airports.

And for extra credit: see if you can tell the difference between "Rule of Law" and "Rule of Man" and ask yourself if an action is legal simply because the President says it is.

The point I’m trying to make is this… no matter how much education you have, there is always one final comprehensive exam that you have to deal with. It’s the test of you trying to figure out what you have learned and putting it to practice in the real world. And all of the teachers and all of the Cliffs Notes and bullet points won’t help you here.

This is where you have to take all of the things that you’ve picked up from school… all of the thing that you’ve picked up from your family and friend and peers… all of the things that you’ve picked up from the media… and yes even the talking points and sound byte clips from talk radio and the air-fluffed members of the media…and put them all together to come up with your own answers. YOUR answers. Not some talking head’s answer. Not some politician’s answer. Not some answer passed down from your parents or some ancient text. Yours. Completely yours.

Now… if you can do that, then you’ve truly passed the final exam.

(Computer – clever mix of audio clips that you have to hear to appreciate)
(Fade Music In – "Who am I" by Peace Orchestra)

There is a difference between knowledge and intelligence. Knowledge is the collection of information. It means getting all of those tidbits that you see and hear and read about. Intelligence, though, is being able to put all of that information to use. You see, it’s not enough that you KNOW things. It’s also important that you can figure out how you can apply it.

That’s something that too many people don’t want you to do. They don’t want you to come up with the answers. They don’t want you to put the pieces together. They don’t want you to do that because that is where THEIR power comes from. Their power rests in being able to tell you what the answers are.

Think about all of those people who are fixated on what some book tells them to do, or on what some minister or politician or some talk show host tells them to do. They may have some knowledge, but they don’t know how to use it. And in that regard, even if they have all of this knowledge, they still come off with as much intelligence as a box of rocks.


Brutally Honest is a Get Brutal production, all opinions expressed are those of the commentator, and may or may not be shared by the online provider. This is David Matthews 2 saying good night, and I’ll speak with you soon!

(Fade out)
(Computer – Ending/"End of Recording")

[End of program]

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