Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Things I Learned In Grade School

As I grow older (and wiser), there are more and more things that I learned in my Catholic grade school that I'm now finding out are not universally shared beliefs as I had once assumed.

After the jump, what I once believed was common sense.

  It turns out that these things I thought were the common ground on which all Americans stood are not as commonly believed as I once thought:

  • that everyone appreciated, even took pride in, our secular form of government and its separation of church and state. (Maybe it was the periodic persecution of Catholics in English and American history that led Catholics, at least, to this appreciation, and I just assumed everyone else shared it, too. Of course, recent Catholic Church involvement in politics leads me to wonder if even the Catholics no longer appreciate it, either.)

  • that the election of John F. Kennedy to the Presidency ended, once and for all, religious qualifications for public office. (Maybe it was JFK's breaking of that barrier that created the false hope among Catholics that this truism and the first one were, in fact, now true.)

  • that it was obvious to all that slavery was behind the Civil War. (Yes, my grade school was in the North.)

  • that everyone believed that William Jennings Bryan, who argued against evolution in the Scopes Monkey trial, may have won the trial in 1925 but lost in the wider court of public opinion. (Thankfully, none of the priests and nuns who taught me ever expressed reservations about evolution.)

  • that it was generally accepted that, in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. (I just assumed civilization was universally appreciated.)

  • that it was generally accepted that, in the words of Richard Nixon, we are all Keynesians now. (OK, I learned this one in high school, not grade school, but how many Americans today have a clue what the quote even means, to say nothing of accepting it?)

  • and that everyone believed that, in Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge was the bad guy. (This belief was dashed decades ago, when Ed Meese, Attorney General in the Reagan administration, said: "Ebenezer Scrooge suffered from bad press in his time. If you really look at the facts, he didn't exploit Bob Cratchit.")

All in all, I may be wiser today, but I like the world of my childhood imagination better.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

That the second childhood belief listed above was just wishful thinking came crashing home today when another blogger posted an item warning against voting for Muslims for Richardson City Council. Religious bigotry is alive and well ... right here in Richardson. I condemn it.