“Let the Myth of Exceptionalism Die”

My editorial, “Let the Myth of Exceptionalism Die,” is in today’s London Free Press.

I caught an error after sending the piece in. You will notice that two dates appear regarding the Danish rescue of Jews during World War II: 1940 & 1943. The correct date should simply by (October) 1943.

Vox Populi: Let the myth of American exceptionalism die

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Talking Bandung with a student

Talking about the Bandung Conference of 1955 and the Non-Aligned Movement with a student this evening.

In this era of a fracturing Atlantic Alliance I find it immensely valuable to better understand how there has long been more than a bipolar world out there. And I believe very strongly that young adults deserve to learn about and engage with alternative narratives about the historical roots of the twenty-first century world. They need to know about the aspirations of the developing world nations and to engage with the fault lines of colonialism, neocolonialism, and neo-imperialism. I am grateful that there are many outstanding works of scholarship out there that make my own reading so much richer and my perspective better informed.

For anyone interested, this book is an outstanding introduction to the politics of the Non-Aligned Movement and the developing world in the mid-late twentieth century:

9781595583420

What do we want from/for our children?

I had a valuable conversation today with an academic who pointed out that in the academy, professors and instructors are finding that most students lack initiative and wait to be told what to do, what to study, and how to work. Conversely, in the schools, kids who demonstrate a free spirit and inner-driven orientation are frequently coming into conflict with the expectations of their teachers.

There does seem to be a paradox afoot where kids are taught to follow instructions and then when they enter the world of the “private sector,” encounter employers frustrated with their lack of initiative.

Far be it from me to simplify a highly complex issue, but I can say from my own personal experience that I have seldom been rewarded for my independence of mind in nearly any school or employment situation. I sympathize with students and youth because it seems that no one has any idea what they want from young people. I have my own thoughts about this which are based on my belief that our society lacks an essential faith in the capacity of the individual to not only make her own decisions but also that we do not have faith in our capacity to come together to problem solve with one another. The frustration over the state of education strikes me as being a principal focal point of this essential lack of faith.