Home > Uncategorized > Standardized Test Metrics and “Shooter Drills” Support Ethos of “Pure Capitalism”… and that Ethos Diminishes Kindness

Standardized Test Metrics and “Shooter Drills” Support Ethos of “Pure Capitalism”… and that Ethos Diminishes Kindness

June 29, 2018

Medium blogger Umar Hague provides consistently thought-provoking posts about the source of our nation’s ill-being… and his post earlier this mont titled “The Origins of America’s Unique and Special Cruelty” was no exception. The picture at the top of the post, seen below, shows a group of school students hiding under bullet proof blankets during an active shooter drill.

In a paragraph near the beginning of the post, Mr. Haque poses this question:

What motivates the kind of spectacular, unique, unimiaginable, and gruesome cruelty that we see in America, which exists nowhere else in the world?

See that pic above? It’s kids huddling under bulletproof blankets, doing “active shooter drills”. That’s what I mean by “unique and spectacular cruelty”. No kid should — ever — have to be traumatized and victimized like that, and indeed, even kids in Pakistan and Iran aren’t.

My answer goes something like this. Americans, you must remember, grew up in the shadow of endless war. With two “sides” who championed atomic individualism, lionized competition and brutality, and despised weakness and fragility. And thus, America forgot — or maybe never evolved — the notion of a public interest. Each man for himself, everyone against everyone himself. So all there is left in America is extreme capitalism now. Few championed a more balanced, saner, healthier way of life, about a common good, about virtue, about a higher purpose. And in that way, America has become something like, ironically enough, a mirror image of its great enemy, the Soviet Union. It is a totalist society, run by and for one end — only a slightly different one: money.

And shooter drills are designed to instill fear and paranoia, two elements that support what Mr. Haque calls “Predatoy Capitalism”:

…because most of America is now managed by and predatory capital — even its healthcare, media, and education — there is little room, space, opportunity, chance to discuss and suggest and educate people about higher ideals, values, and purposes. For example, on the BBC, I can watch endless documentaries by academics on everything from Renaissance art to French literature — but in America, I’m stuck with Ancient Aliens, poverty porn, police-state reality shows. What is that going to teach me, show me, induce in me — except ignorance, paranoia, resentment, and spite?

The result is a kind of impoverishment we don’t often discuss. A lack, or deficit, of civilizing mechanisms. You see, in other countries, things like media, healthcare, and education, do more than just “provide a service”. Because they’re public goods, are also things that bind people together, connect them with history, bring out their better selves — not just their inner predator. Through them, by treating each other with care and respect as we share them, we learn what it is to be gentle, civilized. They educate us, in that way, about what is to be kind.

All spiritual paths talk about the need for us to love our neighbors as ourselves and treat each other the way we want to be treated. The Buddhist teachings take things a step further: they emphasize the need for people to avoid ingesting toxins, which not only include food but also media… for the Buddha realized that when individuals consume toxic news and engage in toxic conversation they are poisoning not only their own well-being, they are poisoning the well-being of the community. These are not the lessons we are teaching in our school… nor are the lessons that are currently available to the general public who perceive everything through the lens of predatory capitalism.

Which brings us to the ultimate reinforcement of the notion of predatory capitalism: standardized tests. Tests used to sort and select students and sort and select schools reinforce the concept that the only the fittest survive and the only way to get ahead is to position yourself so that you can get into the best schools possible and “beat out the competition” on some kind of metric like tests that presumably measure “intelligence”, or “aptitude”… and soon things like “emotional intelligence” and “grit”. Perform well on these assessments and you and/or your school will advance in the world… Perform badly, and you can stay at home and watch “Ancient Aliens, poverty porn, police-state reality shows.”

 

 

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