Saturday, February 4, 2012

Quote du Jour (Activism Department)

Today's quote, from yesterday's New York Times, is pulled from an opinion piece by David Brooks. Brooks has some pithy things to say about contemporary protest movements "that are ultimately vague and ineffectual."

He writes, "Effective rebellion isn't just expressing your personal feelings." He zooms in on what seems to be lacking in higher education these days -- rigor. For that we have my generation to thank.

Clever us. We fought to eliminate the core curriculum and what had been standard requirements for graduation. We demanded it all ditched because it was sexist, racist, anchored in Western Civilization, and obviously a pawn of the educational industrial complex.

And we learned our language of protest from the very courses we wanted eliminated. We won! Or did we? I think not, which is why I appreciated Brooks' essay.  Hope you read the whole thing. Here are some quotes:

The paradox of reform movements is that, if you want to defy authority, you probably shouldn’t think entirely for yourself. You should attach yourself to a counter-tradition and school of thought that has been developed over the centuries and that seems true.

The old leftists had dialectical materialism and the Marxist view of history. Libertarians have Hayek and von Mises. Various spiritual movements have drawn from Transcendentalism, Stoicism, Gnosticism, Thomism, Augustine, Tolstoy, or the Catholic social teaching that inspired Dorothy Day.

These belief systems helped people envision alternate realities. They helped people explain why the things society values are not the things that should be valued. They gave movements a set of organizing principles. Joining a tradition doesn’t mean suppressing your individuality. Applying an ancient tradition to a new situation is a creative, stimulating and empowering act. Without a tradition, everything is impermanence and flux.

─  David Brooks