March 11th, 2011 17:06 EST
Starving Education Will Turn The U.S. Into a Third-World Country
What are we thinking?
Why are Americans obsessed with youth? What is the mystery of youth? I would say it`s our reverie about its future and its privacy. We wonder if the lovely cashier will marry a rich man or if the model takes part in secret orgies or if the student will become rich or if the boy next door will invent something fabulous.
Life stretches out before the young, but the rest of us have made our choices and are paying their consequences. We are known quantities. We can assign anything we can imagine to the young. We can imagine adventures for them. We can imagine their not making our mistakes.
They thrill us, encourage us, if we`re decent, that is. But if we steal from them, if we steal their innocence, for example, then great tragedies befall all of us. If we pray for them everything we missed or lost, if we want it for them, then our lives, at whatever stage, refresh themselves. But if we steal from them, what hope have any of us?
And that is why spending 5.7 percent of our gross domestic product on education is as criminal as rape. We are 37th in the world, way behind both industrialized nations and third-world nations as well. No one has any future under such circumstances. And yet that is the course to which we as a people have committed.
We do not wish to see shame cross the beautiful face of America, do we? And yet how can we not be ashamed of this? Our performance scores are plummeting while we continue to celebrate youth. Is it because we believe youth is all surface beauty and it doesn`t matter what is inside? Or is it because somehow we cannot see that the most significant product America is now manufacturing is a third-world country?
And if we choose to take an historical moment to consider the rape of our youth, why not take a further moment to contemplate a society that seems to think its elderly are done, finished, through with their creativity, their contributions to the rest of us, a burden, baggage. Does it mean we think no lovely poem or painting or math solution will ever come from a white head? Does it mean we don`t need old heads? What does it mean?
Middle-aged wage slaves haven`t had a statistically meaningful raise in more than thirty years. College graduates can`t find good jobs. What does it say that as a people we have agreed to shortchange the young, the old and many in between in favor of whom, of what? The super-rich who wallow in their wealth and get huge tax breaks while everyone else struggles? The capacity to kill everyone in the world many times over? In 2010 we spent more than $1 trillion on the military, over half the U.S. budget.
What are we thinking? Are we thinking?
Djelloul Marbrook is a retired newspaperman. His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, will be published by Deerbrook Editions on December 20, 2010. His first book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. It won the International Book Award in 2010. His novella, Artemisia`s Wolf, will be published by Prakash Books of India in December. His novella, Saraceno, was recently published as an e-book. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal Latté first prize in fiction in 2008. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal Latté`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com