Sunday, 13-10-13 and Monday, 14-10-13
Have to swallow yesterday’s words, which is fine for two reasons:
1) There were few of them.
2) I’m glad I was wrong.
I learn a lot from being wrong and I’ve learned that admitting it is a lot quicker and more productive than not doing so. Occasionally I’ll admit to being wrong and then I’ll find out I was right, but that’s probably the exception.
So, what I was wrong about yesterday was Imprimis. It’s probably not smart to write my response to a first glance at something. And it’s worse to write it late at night.
Jane Austen originally titled Pride and Prejudice First Impressions. That’s an OK title, I suppose, but the former has more snap.
My first impression of Imprimis was that it was going to be boring–some stuff that was supposed to be good for me–dry, chock full of over-my-head information. Hey, that’s it! That was the problem. I thought it was going to be over my head because of the free online Economics 101 course advertisement. I found it intimidating.
My abysmal understanding of current events is something I’m not proud of. I would like to be more informed, but I haven’t figured out how to become so. It’s sort of like trying to embark on a musical education–trying to be up on what has happened and what’s still happening and what makes good music and how to perform it and all that. In fact, I think I’d stand a better chance at trying to acquire such an education than at becoming informed.
“Being informed”–I as call it–is tricky because you don’t know who to trust and what to believe. Everyone you agree with already sounds sensible. If you, in the spirit of fair play, give audience to an opposing viewpoint you start to feel confused. You know you are hearing what they want to tell you and maybe not all the facts.
You know what? You are insecure. Even people you love and trust can be cranky or opinionated and you may disagree. The ocean of information is so vast that no one can possess all the facts at their fingertips and your questions (which may resemble baiting or may be honest what-ifs) may not be adequately addressed because the person was unprepared for them. I know what’s that like. I’m always reliving discussions–real and imagined. I come up with really good responses, but if the other person was doing the same no doubt they’d be coming up with equally valid counter objections.
The trick is to not get riled. That’s tough. And because I know I’m vulnerable in that area I tend to avoid it.
Anyway, back to the Imprimis newsletter. Turns out it was better than dry oatmeal, better than warm, moist oatmeal–even the maple kind which is my favorite. What at first-glance (after wrestling it open which isn’t a good exercise for impatient people like me) appeared to be a tiny print, multi-page, multi-articled, overly intellectual pamphlet was actually a one-article speech printout with a few Hillsdale environment-based advertisements (stuff like the online econ class and a cruise full of speakers–no sports mentioned).
The article was titled “Football and the American Character” (a speech by John J. Miller delivered at Hillsdale College 9-9-13). I read it with the idea in mind that I may have been being manipulated. Nevertheless I learned some good and interesting things. Interesting things were about the history of football. I kept asking myself, “Have I heard of Walter Camp? Have I heard of Charles W. Eliot?” I had heard of Knute Rockne at least.
One of the good things I learned is that sports are good. I’m not a fanatic, but I found out last year (at a series of Education Week lectures taught by Mark Ogletree) that many of our church general authorities played sports and that information impressed me. Many of them were talented athletes who played college sports on scholarship. Most of them were athletes. So, when the author of this article said, sports are good, I was willing to entertain the notion.
One of the important things I learned from the article is this:
“Many parents will point to the obvious fact that sports are good for health and fitness. They’ll also discuss the intangible benefits in terms of character building—sports teach kids to get up after falling down, to play through pain, to deal with failure, to work with teammates, to take direction from coaches, and so on.
“It turns out that there really is something to all of this. Empirical research shows that kids who play sports stay in school longer. As adults, they vote more often and earn more money. Explaining why this is true is trickier, but it probably has something to do with developing a competitive instinct and a desire for achievement.
“Roosevelt was surely correct in believing that sports influence the character of a nation. Americans are much more likely than Europeans to play sports. We’re also more likely to attribute economic success to hard work, as opposed to luck. It may be that sports are a manifestation—or possibly even a source—of American exceptionalism.”
I’m a fan of things that explain why America is an exceptional country because I believe that it is one (thanks to another series of Education Week lectures). The apparent fact that Americans value their health and that such a value apparently leads to other impressive characteristics makes sports look like a good thing.
I also liked this observation: “although sports can be dangerous, they’re also good for us. They not only make us distinctively American, they make us better Americans.”
I’m probably all crammed with illogical thinking, but something else I noticed recently contributed to my belief that America is a great country because of the things we value.
I watched the interviews from the bonus features section of the version of Jane Eyre starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. One of the women who worked on the film said something like this, “Some people still believe that romance should lead to marriage and family.” That is not a direct quote, it’s my impression of what she said. It took me a minute to absorb the import of her statement. She seemed to imply that there was some other form of acceptable and lasting love other than marriage. Or she may have been saying that no such thing exists in any form. Whatever her exact meaning, I was alarmed as soon as I realized what she’d intimated.
Then I made the observation that when you abandon standards you have nothing to cling to. And I had a clear impression of Nephi’s description of the Iron Rod vision come to mind. When you let go of the truth and start trying to make your own, you are indeed lost.
“Gather ‘round the standard bearer.” I think that must be the prophet, the representative of Jesus Christ on earth.
If we want to retain our true greatness as a country, Americans need to hang onto our standards.