Almost immediately, a list of concerns was aired:
- The deficit we are leaving to our children;
- The rise of corporate power in our democracy;
- The intractable ways of our dysfunctional Congress;
- The quagmires in both Iraq and Afghanistan;
- The inability to confront climate change;
- The social injustice of poverty;
- The polarization of our populous brought about by the far right and the far left (but mostly by the far right, I must say, admitting my bias)…
A day or two mulling this question brought me to this singular conclusion: The major issue confronting America is our collective inattention to literacy.
WERE WE A MORE LITERATE SOCIETY, we would understand:
- The value of money and influence (ours or the government’s) over time. We would recognize that there are limits to the good credit can do for us and that there are limits to the things we really need to have. We would embrace the consequences attached to debts we accrue.
- “What’s good for General Motors is good for the US,” is credible only if the ethics driving the business balance what’s good for shareholders with what’s good for the country. We’d know that disconnects between the shareholder and the citizenry are natural and predictable because of that darned “love of money” oracle.
- We vote for people to make policy on our behalf. We’d know that the implementation of autopilot initiatives and ballot box budgeting inhibit representatives’ ability to fulfill their responsibilities, while affording us opportunity to make policy the impacts of which we cannot fully conceptualize.
- There are those who do not “hate our way of life” but are jealous of it; and that there are good people who fervently worship in a different manner. (We’d know this because we’d choose to read the Qur’an, rather than have somebody tell us what’s in it.)
- It is easier to criticize the science than to actually do the science.
- Assisting the poor to self-sufficiency doesn’t take away from us; it contributes to the betterment of all.
- Nothing is absolute. There are aspects of life that can be done independently and for profit. And there are equally important societal functions that are done for all. Police and fire protection, education, the justice system and, perhaps, even health care (think: promote the general welfare) come to mind.
AUDI PARTEM ALTERAM: “hear the other side.” When literate, we “get” that the opponent’s point of view is not a threat, it is simply another point of view. When literate, we converse to answer common questions and solve common problems. When literate, we develop the tools necessary to address (dare I say?) all the major issues confronting America.
Societies lacking the logic, reason and thought commonly associated with literacy are mired in conflict, poverty, crime and ignorance. Security, safety and well-being suffer.
Preferring to not go there as a country, I'll put my efforts behind greater literacy for all.
Church of the Open Road Press