A Message from Dr. Randall Bush

by Ivy Scarborough | May 18th, 2011

“Ivy, first, I’ve kind of become anti-textbook because textbooks are usually smorgasbords that do not teach students how to analyze and synthesize vast bodies of information in any meaningful way. Your book is more than a textbook because it does more than just present facts. ” – Dr. Randall Bush

I APPRECIATE THIS OBSERVATION VERY MUCH.  ONCE AGAIN YOU HAVE PERCEIVED WHAT I WAS DOING AND WHY.

I SHARE YOUR CONCERN ABOUT THE INABILITY OF MOST STUDENTS – AND THEIR PROFESSORS – TO THINK ANALYTICALLY.  I REFER TO THIS IN ITN AS DISCRIMINATORY THINKING AND I MAKE A SERIOUS ISSUE OUT OF IT IN THE CHAPTER ON EDUCATION.

Dr. Bush’s message here is very important even though we have never discussed it.

There are so many issues and principles addressed in the 912 pages of Into the Night that we have only touched upon perhaps 15% of them.

One of my primary themes is the compelling need for nonconformity, individualism, independence of thought and action AND the prerequisite ability to think in an analytical and discriminating way.

I pull no punches in ITN in describing the deterioration of our society in intellectual – not just moral or spiritual – terms.

I point out that conformity is the critical first ingredient needed for individuals and a society to lose their freedom AND to be led into catastrophic behavior (e.g, in modern times: Germany – WWI and WWII, Soviet Russia, Japan in WWII, etc.).

The individualism and self reliance that ORIGINALLY characterized American society were – outgrowths of the Christian faith – the KEYS to the achievement and maintenance of true freedom.

Without nonconforming, independent thought and self-reliant attitudes we could not have achieved what we have achieved – UNPRECEDENTED IN WORLD HISTORY – in terms of freedom.

As we lose those traits – and they are atrophying at a rapid rate from desuetude – we WILL lose our freedoms.  It is already occurring; we just do not perceive the transmogrification, much less its extent.

In the chapter on education I deploy a British veteran of WWII, later a professor at an American university, Robert Conquest, in support of those views. Conquest declared that much of what passes for teaching today actually discourages critical thought and “explicitly conspires to inculcate the uncritical fashions of the moment.”

I agree.

But we must recognize – and address – the origins of this behavior in the home – nurtured by the media – and in so many other venues throughout our society.  By the time the average American student gets into the school system he is already well conditioned to conform – not think with discrimination.  By the time he reaches a university, he is sheep-like in his thinking even as he asserts his independence.

I allude to a scene from The Last of the Mohicans in which a pompous, young British officer, resplendent in his red tunic, sitting astride his mount, looks contemptuously at the rough American frontiersman standing around him who are not responding to his call to join the King’s militia.  He demands, “Do you not consider yourselves loyal subjects of the King??!!”

Whereupon Nathaniel – appropriately, leaning on his long rifle – responds: “I do not consider myself subject to much at all.”

I adhere to Nathaniel’s philosophy completely – with the qualification that I bow only before God.

But I know I am a nearly extinct species on the American landscape.

About Ivy Scarborough

Ivy Scarborough is a writer, commentator, former adjunct professor, television, radio and print commentator, radio program host, professional mediator, and lawyer.

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