‘Protecting Us from Knowing Things We Shouldn’t Know’ (2015)

Image result for images of the chess players by frances parkinson keyes

This was my Newswithviews column for Jan. 29, 2015.


Why can’t these people leave us alone? Always pontificating about what we should or shouldn’t think, should or shouldn’t be allowed to say, should or shouldn’t be allowed to read–but they are not better than us and they are certainly not wiser than us.

Historical novels, if they are written in good faith, thoroughly researched, and as accurate in their depiction of the past as it is humanly possible to make them, can help us understand the past. Not just know about it, but actually to understand it.

Once upon a time on the radio I heard two Intellectuals complaining about “a bunch of truck drivers” reading history and getting ideas above their station. We should be content to be spoon-fed by Our Betters–

Eeyah! Basta! No more of this!

Because Our Betters most definitely are not our betters.

8 comments on “‘Protecting Us from Knowing Things We Shouldn’t Know’ (2015)

  1. The same people who want us to “mind our betters,” want us to ignore Jesus Christ, God’s Son who definitely IS our “better.”

  2. That’s sickening. One of the beauties of America is the fact that people can better themselves. Occasionally, one will run into someone with dirt under their fingernails and clothing stained with perspiration, but soon realize that this person is well-informed and quite the equal of many a learned man. I find that refreshing.

    What I don’t find refreshing are people that have a lot of formal education and whom assume that anyone with less education than they have is incapable of comprehending as much as they do. I worked with one such bozo; a man that wore his Master’s Degree like a crown of thorns. The problem, from what I could tell, was that all he ever did was schedule meetings and delegate work to others. In the end, he was disgraced and lost his job. Forensic evaluation of his saved documents revealed that he was doing little and apparently put most of his effort into making certain others would get the blame for any problems which arose. But I digress.

    My main point here is that we should view others as individuals and not as the product of some degree program or station in life. I’ve known MDs that were total losers and high school dropouts that were beyond brilliant.

    1. Agreed. My (step)father and his two younger siblings were orphaned when he was in high school, and he had to drop out of school to support them. Not only did he eventually earn enough put his sister through law school, but he himself, without any further formal schooling, was one of the best-read and best-informed people I’ve ever known — and he was wise as well. I still quote some of the advice he gave me when I was in my teens and twenties.

    2. Some people don’t have much in the way of opportunity, when it comes to education. Neither of my parents had much in the way of formal education, yet both of them continued to learn after leaving skill. My father was a brilliant man who could hold his own conversing with a doctor or other professional. He knew all sorts of people in various professions and was well liked by such people. I don’t know whether he ever finished high school, but he was certainly not uneducated.

  3. Self-educating is the best. Learn how to read, write, and think and be learning for the rest of your life. I like philosophy but am not a professional one – my brother likes to golf but is not a professional one. Life is for learning, and even more, life is to be enjoyed.

    1. Very wise. When I was younger, I sought to be the best in everything. Since then, I’ve learned that there is such a thing as good enough. I’m probably the worst golfer on earth, but I have fun with it. Maybe someday I’ll become better, but I’m not in it for money or for glory, but for exercise, relaxation and a challenge.

    2. I learned chess by playing with other kids, then by solving chess problems and replaying classic games. I never got a chess computer, or had a tutor. If I work hard at studying it, I’m a very good chess player. But you have to keep working or you lose your edge. It took me a long time to learn that there’s no need for me to be that sharp at chess. But the point is–you can do just about anything if you really work at it.

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