I started school in 1948 in a one-room school. The first order of business on the first day involved cutting and pasting and I recall the teacher assigning me to help a little girl who had apparently never done anything of the sort before. I was already quite a proficient reader and the Dick and Jane readers were far too simplistic to hold any interest for me. But I could always eavesdrop on the lessons being taught to the grades ahead of me and learned a lot that way.
A few years later we moved and I was in a larger school where there were only two grades to a classroom. My proficiency in reading and math made school easy for me. I’m afraid I developed some very lazy work habits because of that, but I managed to read every book in the school library.
Schools have kept getting bigger and bigger, and dumber and dumber, since those days. My first teacher probably only had a summer course before starting to teach, but she was a super teacher and managed a classroom with eight grades without any major upheavals. Teachers today need a B. Ed. degree and are held up as the experts in all things educational. Parents dare not question or interfere in the teaching program of this expert. What parents are not told is that wonderful sounding degree only attests to the teacher having sat through several years of courses on the psychology of child development. The university never tested the teachers knowledge of the subjects he was about to teach, nor did it offer any training in how to teach them.
Along the way, numerous elements of pop psychology, social activism, environmental awareness, sexual awareness and tolerance for “alternative lifestyles” have been added to the curriculum, squeezing out time that would have been better spent gaining mastery of the essential tools of learning. History and grammar seem to have pretty much disappeared.
What is going on here? Aldous Huxley’s book, Brave New World, offers a chilling glimpse of where academic masterminds want to lead our world. First published in 1931, the book depicts a world without families, a world where even long term friendships are unheard of. Sex is purely a recreational activity, with no prudery or embarrassment attached. Babies are produced in factories, genetically manipulated into five levels: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon. Those in the Alpha group are the managers and leaders. The Epsilons are slow thinkers, designed for the drudgery of any manual labour that is still needed. No one is ever sick or handicapped and everyone dies at the age of 60 without ever experiencing pain or sorrow. If anyone feels bored, annoyed or upset, they just take a Soma pill and and become blissfully unaware of whatever was bothering them.
Is this starting to sound uncomfortably like the direction our world is going? Brave New World is a work of fiction, not intended as prophecy. Yet it seems that already in 1931 Huxley saw the signs of where some idealistic people would like to lead our world.
The apostle Paul twice mentioned people “without natural affection.” In Romans 1:31 he is speaking of his own time and in 2 Timothy 3:3 he refers to”the latter days.” We don’t have to look far for evidence of that today: the value of marriage and family is being subtly, and not so subtly, disparaged. The abortion of potentially handicapped, or just inconvenient, babies is seen as beneficial. More and more it is being viewed as a good thing to help the terminally ill, or those just weary of life, to depart this life as painlessly as possible.
Is there any hope? I would like to believe that natural affection, though greatly abused and undervalued, may be just what we need to keep us from going over the precipice. There is in every person a longing to be loved and to love. To care so much about someone else that you feel anxiety and anguish in their struggles, and joy in their triumphs. A longing to mean something to someone else, and to finding meaning in loving that person. Can that longing ever be completely erased? Even Huxley did not appear to think so.
That longing for a meaningful relationship with someone outside of ourselves is at its root a longing for God. No one else can ever completely satisfy that longing. Even though everything around us seems to want to destroy our awareness of that longing, I don’t believe it can ever be erased from the human soul. And when someone experiences the fulfillment of that longing in a relationship with God, all human relationships become more genuine and meaningful. That is the way God has made us: “It is not good for man to be alone.”