THE GREAT LEAP BACKWARDS
I have mentioned before that I have been at odds with schoolmarms since I was six. It has been a love-hate sort of relationship, a yin-yang sort of unity, and an Aunt Polly-Tom Sawyer sort of Love. Now that I’m older my heart has softened and grown warmer, but when I was younger I could be quite cold, and righteously indignant about the shortcomings of those I opposed, including schoolmarms. In fact I now see God was very wise to make sure I never was in a position of power, for, had power crazed me like a high fever, or poisoned me with madness like Frodo’s ring, I could have become as twisted and evil as Pol Pot was, when he eradicated all teachers in Cambodia.
Pol Pot also eradicated all who had so much as a “writer’s callous” on the middle finger of their writing hand. That would have included me, (back in those days when people wrote on paper and not at computers.) In Pol Pot’s eyes, on the Cambodian Killing Fields, I was not so different from the schoolmarms I disagreed with. Rather than seeing me as opposed to teachers, he would have seen me as the same, as filthy bourgeois he intended to wipe from the face of the earth.
In conclusion, if you twist your mind around to Pol Pot’s contorted myopia, I too am a schoolmarm. He did not side with the yin against the yang, or the yang against the yin, but wanted both destroyed.
Twenty years ago I got so mad at the schoolmarms I yanked my children from school and homeschooled them. I then learned what it was like to be the teacher, for I had to be the schoolmarm for my own children.
When I decided to yank my children from the school system it may have looked like I was a Pol Pot, detesting teachers. I was a bit afraid I might offend two close friends, who had been the maid of honor and best man at my own wedding, for both were teachers. However, rather than becoming offended and kicking me in the groin, they both were helpful and even supportive, as I plunged into the spitballs of teaching, without a teaching degree.
Perhaps the only reason I wasn’t a total failure as a home schoolteacher is that a writer, in a way, is attempting to teach. This means even the most anti-establishment bohemian is actually a schoolmarm. Oh! The indignity of such a realization!
When I was young and radical there were two occupations that repelled me, and they were teaching children and writing children’s books. What am I now doing, at age sixty? Running a childcare on my farm, which involves telling children stories, (even when it isn’t “story time.”)
Talk about irony.
And talk about being powerless! God, in His infinite wisdom, has put me through a life where I have never once applied to be a schoolteacher and have never once written a children’s book. I have suffered storms and stress, worked over two hundred different jobs, slept in my car in numerous different states, worn clothing that smelled of fish guts and pig guts and paint and perfumes and manure of all sorts, including human manure, and sweated in bronze foundries, and also in clanging nail and ball bearing and medical tubing and mustard-label factories, and answered telephones, and commanded a Burger King, and billed and dealt with a psychiatrist’s customers, and sold my blood, and ran a small town market, and so on and so forth, all to avoid the exact situation I now find myself in: I run a childcare and am in many ways a schoolmarm.
Perhaps you have to be sixty years old to understand that there isn’t all much difference between a schoolmarm and her worst pupil. Humanity includes diverse variety, but we all share a common humanity. We are very different, but were all made by a Creator whose fingerprint touches us all. If “God is in everyone,” we are all the same, despite our huge differences.
Therefore, under no condition, should we kill our fellow schoolmarms, if only because we ourselves might someday be a schoolmarm, and targets of the next insane Pol Pot’s purge.
This is seen in the history of modern China, which is an incredible example of schoolteachers being exploited and discarded, used and abused. It is well worth studying how “The Great Leap Forward” led to “The Cultural Revolution,” for the former required the teachers, and the latter killed them. After the insane hero-worship of Mao began withering, (with his death,} China had to deal with problems such as increasing illiteracy, but there were no teachers left to teach, and all they had was a few surviving good-students. It is amazing they have recovered as well as they have.
I hate to say this, but we are seeing something similar in America, right now.
The reason “The Great Leap Forward” failed was because it leaned too heavily on political dogma, rather than on truth.
I’ll give a single example, which I, as a farmer, can understand.
Every farmer knows you need to thin carrots. However China imported a Russian “scientific authority” called Lysenko who begged to differ. He stated it was politically incorrect to thin carrots. Carrots would recognize fellow carrots were members of the carrot-proletariat, and would wisely allot nutrients to the betterment of all, and therefore it was better to not thin. (Obvious hogwash, but if you said so, you got the ax.)
The result of this hogwash (and many other examples of politically correct hogwash,) was a horrible famine. Just as Lysenko, as a “scientific authority,” brought horrible famine to Russia, he brought it to China.
You may say, “It can’t happen here,” but I tell you it is. The political correctness called “Global Warming” has brought a ruin to Europe, and now wants to bring it here. It involved scorning the “tried and true”, (thinning carrots,) and embracing the “progressive,” (not thinning them.)
I personally like the warmth of a fire, despite smoke getting in my eyes, however to some the smoke is an offence too great to bear. They have come up with the idea we can quit fire. Instead we can have solar panels and wind turbines. Mankind can be freed from its addiction to fire! The curse of Prometheus can be escaped! (Or so dreams Europe.)
When you next camp, you will not gather around the campfire. You will gather around the turbine, because it is politically correct. You will toast marshmallows in the attached microwave.
Forgive me for being sardonic, and a bit absurd, however to me the entire premise behind Global Warming was absurd right from the start. However the schoolmarms bought into it, and this put me into the shoes of a Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn before an Aunt Polly, when I dared to be politically incorrect and said Global Warming and attempts to “cure” it were folly.
If you re-read Mark Twain’s work, one thing you will notice is that he had a genuine sympathy, not apparent at first, towards Aunt Polly and her schoolmarm ways.
Mark Twain would not agree with Pol Pot, and would never say Aunt Polly should be put to death.
However we are living in dangerous times. Europe thought they could again be ahead of the savage non-Europeans, by being the first to embrace a better idea, as they did back when they first used fossil fuels and all the gifts fossil fuels gave. Just as they had the best iron, best guns, and best battleships, they might have the best wind turbines and solar panels. Once again Europe might rule!
The only problem is, it doesn’t work. It is an idea like Lysenko’s. It might be nice, in theory, if not-thinning carrots gave you a better crop, however reality begs to differ. And Europe is starting to see they made a big mistake, investing so heavily in turbines and panels that don’t work. Their “Great Leap Foreword” was actually “A Great Leap Backward.”
In other words, they are in the shoes of China, a half century ago. The people in power, in Europe, have to decide whether to admit their mistake, or to preserve their power by the idioticracy of “A Cultural Revolution.”
What Mao did, with the “Cultural Revolution” was to retain the hold he had on power by refusing to hold himself accountable. He was the only person who could have made the “Great Leap Forward” possible, because the people adored him alone. Rather than lose that adoration, by fully admitting he was to blame, he made others be the scapegoats, even if they were loyal and dedicated and tried-and-true friends.
What Mao then did to the schoolmarms of China is disgusting. They had accepted “The Great Leap Forward” as gospel, as if Moa was God. Never for an instant did they vary from political correctness. Yet, what was their reward? Moa encouraged the natural rebellion of students to unnatural degrees in the form of the Red Guard, so teachers were slapped, beaten, raped, sent to weed rice paddies in the country, and, in essence, crushed to a degree where they never taught again.
Teachers here in the United Sates like to say, “It can’t happen here.” I can only reply, “Why not?”
Are American Teachers saying the Chinese were stupid? The Chinese teachers most certainly were not. They had been through wars, floods, famines, and political genocides we have been spared the horror of knowing of. They knew more than we did; yet wound up crushed, ruined, and often dead.
Why did they suffer? I think it was because they relied on big shots more than Truth. Even as Mao set out to destroy tradition, he relied on the Chinese obedience to tradition to sucker teachers into self-ruin.
Here in America, we own a weakness. We flunk obedience classes. We are a bunch of rebels and runaways. We have not been very good at honoring our elders, to say the least, and if you don’t believe me, ask King George. While this disrespect might seem to make us candidates for enlistment in a new Red Guard, the Red Guard was based upon blind loyalty to Mao, and I like to think Americans lack such loyalty.
In terms of the Global Warming nonsense, our teachers will only go so far, and no farther. They will trust others to give them truth to teach to the children, even to the degree where they are a bit like Chinese teachers teaching Lysenko’s ideas, concerning thinning carrots. But they will only do it if they believe it is the truth.
The question is, can American teachers be pushed farther? Will they allow an American version of Mao’s “Red Guard” to throw them right out of the classroom? Will they remain docile, exiled from classrooms, sent from the cities, finally winding up weeding next to me, in my rural garden?
If they do, I will turn to them, welcome them, and ask them, “Were you part of a Great Leap Forward, or a Great Leap Backward?”