Column: Politics Minus Education Becomes Religion

Critical thinking has gone missing from our political culture, politicians and policy makers. There was once a time in American society when political views could be discussed in a civil manner and perhaps a mind or two changed along the way. Politics and religion are two third rails of conversation, avoided at all cost. Bring in the state of education for the perfect trifecta.

There is a cost to avoiding political discussion and that cost is the loss of a viable political structure occupied by educated minds capable of discussing and creating effective direction. As long as we refuse to truly educate, vs. teach for tests, our pool of critical thinkers will continue shrinking.

I have sometimes begun a simple conversation about religion, or a conversation has led to religion. The discussion can be lively and even humorous until the point is reached where the basis of belief is faith or biblical.

That point is the one where the conversant believes a specific point and they can not or will not say why. They can’t say because their belief is just that, a belief based on faith. Faith by its definition requires belief without data to back it up. A critical thinker can not end a train of thought at faith, a critical thinker has to get to the base idea driving thought and at that point affirm the base idea or change it. Faith disallows this required step of rational thought. Often the product of a failing education system is faith; faith in political leaders, ideology or religious dogma.

There once was a time when Americans critically considered their politics. Today many won’t. Oddly, a burgeoning group of these faith based believers are young gay men. More and more young gay men view politics from an unfettered faraway point. They don’t bother to delve into the real issues driving their lives, more comfortable in assuming beliefs that require no consideration, exploration or defense. This approach bumps right up against religious belief.

Perhaps the reasoning here is simple. Perhaps young gay men today come from a different mindset. The road has been leveled for them, the heavy lifting of acquiring civil rights is yielding acceptance and many come out earlier to accepting families. Role models exist in the media, family and friends. In their eyes there is no longer a LGBT battle to be fought. They don’t find the necessity to be vigilant; they can be comfortable in the knowledge that they are safe from discrimination, violence and hate. Only they aren’t.

Even as our human rights are finally becoming a reality, homophobia will long remain a real threat, especially as education continues to fail, politicians continue to obfuscate real solutions to problems and people continue to place faith in religions rather than in themselves. Gays have not yet earned the luxury of complacency. Gays have not yet earned the right to give up critical thinking for faith.

Keeping religion and politics separated has been a long time goal and battle for us as a nation, one that we appear to be losing. Separation of the two is a clear distinction that has allowed us as a society to enjoy fruits of existence envied by much of the world. Education truly is the basis of a successful democratic society and where our education system declines in quality, access and usefulness our society is destined to follow.

There are many religion dominated societies around the world, most of which are failing catastrophically. There are many educated societies around the world, most of which are succeeding at escalating levels. There are stagnant societies around the world going nowhere as politics, religion and education fight a battle for supremacy.

The United States has joined the latter and worst yet is assisted by the unanalyzed beliefs of young gays.


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