Curing South Auckland
I said yesterday I'd offer some solutions to the mire that is South Auckland, some simple, some not so simple. Here they are, in summary:
- A police force that protects the innocent. One that has the tools to do the job, but more importantly has the knowledge and training and backup and will to use them.
- A justice system that takes the guilty off the streets. Rudy Guiliani's successful 'Broken Windows' policy is a guide: start with the small crimes, where failure to punish leads offenders into bigger crimes, and put these right first. (And remember that justice isn't about retribution, it's about protecting the rest of us.)
- Hold parents accountable in law for the offences of their children. You have them, you take responsibility for what and whom they destroy.
- Stop paying no-hopers to breed. We are forced by government to pay people to have children they don't want. The result of all those unwanted children appears on the front page of our newspapers nearly every day.
- Have an education system that gives youngsters the tools for life -- that teaches each of them, not how fit in and how to follow (which is all the present factory schools teach them), but how to use the brain they are born with, and how to use it to give themselves wings instead of shackles.
- Perhaps most important of all is this, which is much, much harder: work towards the abandonment of the 'church-on-Sundays' thinking that infests South Auckland more than any other part of the country -- which imparts a superstitious hope that someone else will come along and can solve all one's problems -- and towards the destruction of what tennis ace Chris Lewis calls 'the crab-bucket mentality,' the hatred of achievement with which young South Aucklanders shackle themselves and damn their more successful brothers, and instead of the 'warrior values' of dependency and conflict and renunciation that are all many young South Aucklanders see, promote a philosophy of individualism that offers genuinely life-affirming value to which to aspire --
What I mean by this last is real values for living life on this earth. In one way it's the most difficult of the six points to achieve (and in another it's the easiest: all we have to do is encourage youngsters to think), yet it is by far the most important. The first four or five points are necessary, but not sufficient. The only real antidote to the bad ideas that so many young South Aucklanders have imbibed with their welfare-mother's milk --ideas that are killing them and their neighbours -- is the better ideas that will show them their true potential. Chris Lewis explains what I mean in his conclusion to his article on the 'crab-bucket mentality' that holds so many youngsters back:
....in a world where the predominant trend is toward anti-achievement & anti-success, motivational fuel is something that we all need from time to time to propel us toward our goals. Which is why I would like to commend to your attention a book that provided me with a tremendous amount of motivational fuel very early on in my tennis career.
The book is entitled The Fountainhead, by the Russian/American novelist Ayn Rand. In the introduction to her book, she tells us, "Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees & lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it ... Yet a few hold on & move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose & reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature & of life's potential. There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them."
At a time when, as a seventeen-year-old, I was just setting out to conquer the tennis courts around the world, an attempt that demanded excellence & achievement every step of the way, it was The Fountainhead that helped to inspire me in the face of discouragement from the "crab bucket mentalities" who told me I was wasting my time.
For anyone who believes in the importance of achieving his or her values & goals, who believes that happiness is the end result of such achievement, & that happiness is the norm when independence, in thought & action is promoted, encouraged & pursued, The Fountainhead comes with my highest recommendation.
Lindsay Perigo expands on the theme in a piece he wrote six ears ao in response to a particularly egregious article in Craccum on suicide. Called Affirming Life, I post it here in its entirety.
Yesterday's furore about the 'Craccum' "How to commit suicide" article & your comments on this programme about it set me to thinking about the time I appeared on 'The Ralston Group' when we panellists were asked our explanations for the high rate of youth suicide.
I stated my own suspicion that the problem came down to a failure of philosophy. Youngsters were taking their own lives at precisely the time one asks life's big questions & searches for ideals to guide one's conduct. Religion, to which one traditionally repaired for answers, was discredited & had not been replaced with a viable secular alternative - leaving a values vacuum, leading to despair. What youngster would be inspired by the jaded cynicism so manifest in so many once-thoughtful adults?
But is a viable, secular alternative to religion possible? Can life have meaning without an after-life? If there is no god to inspire ideals & prescribe values, can there be any other source? Can man discover it? Theologians & philosophers alike have answered these questions with a resounding, No! Many professional philosophers revel in proclaiming their discipline irrelevant to the conduct of everyday life. The moral status of benevolence, they say, is no different from that of malevolence, creativity from destructiveness, honesty from deception, etc., and a belief in any of these values over their opposites is merely an arbitrary preference, with no objective validity. Ethically, it's deuces wild.
The current subjectivist/relativist/nihilist morass may seem unappetising, they concede, but that too is an arbitrary judgement. There are no grounds for seeking anything better - there *is* no "better."
The Russian/American novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand begged to differ. It is reality itself, she argued, that confronts man with the need for morality - a code of values designed to facilitate the process of living - because it confronts him with alternatives amongst which he must choose (he has no choice about choice). At the most fundamental level the choice is: life or death. If one chooses death, there is nothing more to be said; if one chooses life, the book of morality opens, & one must fill in the pages oneself, making one's choices in the presence of alternatives to the ultimate value of: life.
To the nihilist's gleeful 'coup de grace,' 'Ah! But why should one value life in the first place?' Rand replied: The question is improper. The value of life need not & cannot be justified by a value beyond life itself; without the fact of life, the concept of value would not be possible in the first place. Value presupposes life; life necessitates value.
To the existentialists' lament that without something beyond life, life itself has no meaning, she responded similarly - the very concept of meaning can have meaning *only* in the context of life. Ultimately, the meaning of life, if one wants to use that terminology, is ... *life* - one's own life, since one cannot live anyone else's - & what other or better meaning could one conceive?
A creature endowed with immortality, denied the alternative of life or death (& their barometers, pleasure & pain) would have no need of values & could discover no meaning in anything since nothing would be of any consequence to it. It is man's nature as a living, mortal entity, unprogrammed to survive, constantly facing alternatives, endowed with a conceptual/volitional consciousness, that simultaneously makes the need for morality inescapable and the fulfilment of that need possible.
For a human being, "is" is fraught with "ought"; "ought" is an irresistible aspect of "is" - the traditional dichotomy between them is false. The task of ethical philosophy is to prevent their being artificially sundered. A successful outcome - a morality derived from and consistent with the facts of reality - is, by virtue of those very characteristics, *not* arbitrary (disconnected from reality) but objective (consonant with reality).
Rand went on to argue that a reality-based, life-affirming morality would concern itself not merely with survival, but survival proper to the life of the sentient, conceptual being that man is. While life might be the *standard* of morality, *happiness*, she argued, was its *purpose*. "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."
In Rand's novel The Fountainhead, a young man fresh out of college, looking for spiritual fuel for the journey ahead of him, is wheeling his bicycle through a forest, when he encounters the architect Howard Roark, contemplating some breath-taking new structures - his own - in a nearby clearing. "Who built this?" he asks. "I did," Roark replies. The boy thanks Roark & walks away. "Roark looked after him. He had never seen him before & he would never see him again. He did not know that he had given someone the courage to face a lifetime."
To all this country's young people, happy & unhappy alike, I would repeat what I said on 'Ralston': Read this book - & the philosophy that produced it. You have nothing to lose but your doubts; you have your dreams to win. I repeat that advice today.
For those who agree with the prescription I've outlined here and who do wish to help the youngsters of South Auckland, I can suggest at least these three things that flow directly from my suggestions above:
- Join the only political party that is committed to points one to five above, and help us promote those ideas this election year. If not us, then who?
- Contact one of the three Montessori schools in South Auckland and tell them you'd like to sponsor a child to attend -- or better yet, sponsor the training of a Montessori teacher for one of these schools. This is precisely the sort of education that does give them wings, what Dr Montessori called education for the human potential.
- Help out those of us who want to reintroduce the Fountainhead Essay Contest next year to encourage youngsters to read The Fountainhead -- that is, to offer to a new generation the inspiration to face a lifetime that reading The Fountainhead has given some of us. (Here's what one participant in the ARI's American competition has to say, and here's the winning 2002 New Zealand essay.
|The Fountainhead |
by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff
Read more about this book...
|To Educate the Human Potential (The Clio Montessori Series) |
by Maria Montessori
Read more about this book...
READ THE EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
South Auckland, again - NOT PC (June 17, 2008)
The warrior culture of South Auckland, Part 1 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
More social workers, more violence - NOT PC (November, 2005)
The great con that is social welfare - Peter Osborne, Libertarianz, Scoop, (January, 2007)