Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"On the Uses of a Liberal Education"-"As a Weapon in the Hands of the Restless Poor" Part 2 by Earl Shorris

This essay really touched me in an unexpected way. I guess I’m just a sucker for basic human decency. There are so many explanations given for the condition that the poorer community lives in and why the cycle seems to be unbreakable. The most succinct explanation I have heard came from the horses mouth. Viniece Walker. The lack of humanities, of the “moral downtown”, is what this woman suggests is the cause of the poor persons inability to escape their environment. At first the author treats her suggestion as quaint, but upon further reflection begins to understand what she meant. Walker was speaking of the fact that the poorer community is deprived of the arts and a general awareness of humanities. In order to be involved in the politics of society on all levels, basic concepts of humanity that produce critical thinking and insight are essential. Without these skills they are perceived as unrefined and interaction with the greater society is compromised since it is based on these social principles. This made to much sense to be ignored and it was upon this idea The Clemente Course was initiated. Learning about the students in attendance there was inspiring. Just by choosing to make time in their exhausting situations to be in this class that could have ended up having no gain besides knowledge is fantastic. It was a real eye opener to see what this opportunity did for so many of the students, including leading many to a higher quality of existence. It was a fine example of how many people in poverty are truly capable, intelligent and want to be better, and how opportunity can make or break that mind-set. I was amazed and inspired that so much good could come out of this one idea.

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