“What is the fruit of these teachings? Only the most beautiful and proper harvest of the truly educated–tranquility, fearlessness, and freedom. We should not trust the masses who say only the free can be educated, but rather the lovers of wisdom who say that only the educated are free” ~ Epictetus, Discourses, 2.1.21-23a
While in my childhood through teen years, as I was sitting in a classroom staring longingly out the window, and you told me that “Education is Freedom,” I would have called you crazy and bonked you on the head with my unopened textbook. However now that I am older, it makes sense. Education does not always mean sitting in a stuffy classroom being lectured to and forced to memorize things, although I suppose we did need to lay the groundwork somewhere so that we could rise up. What Epictetus was pointing out is that we need to keep educating ourselves so that we may continue to grow and evolve. Otherwise, we will just be following other people blindly, and have no control over our own lives. Somebody else will be teaching you how to think and behave. In my American Renaissance class that I am taking right now (speaking of education), I read Ralph Waldo Emerson for the first time. There is a great quote from his essay “Self-Reliance” that is relevant to this conversation:
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you don’t expand your mind and evolve, you can become ignorant of the world around you and your mind becomes smaller. Then it is easy to be controlled by politicians and religious leaders (which I’m sure didn’t go over too well when Emerson mentioned the “divines”). This stands true especially today with social media and political pundits on television and talk radio. If you are unaware of what is going on, and just listen to one source that fits your beliefs, then that source will control you.
It is time to educate ourselves and rid ourselves of all the toxic bullshit that is being spread around the world. There are many ways to do this. First, pull the plug on cable news. They have all devolved over the past couple of decades. They are less news sources and more gossiping teens. They pick and choose to show the most extreme behaviors of their rivals so they can outrage their viewers/listeners, and keep them coming back so they can continue to pull in that advertising money. The left wing and the right wing of our big beautiful eagle, that is America, are fling us directly into the face of a cliff. It’s time to change direction of this flight. Do something more constructive with your time. It is much better and healthier for you to be excited and positive than to be outraged all the time. Read more books. It doesn’t have to be self-help books. It can be something that is fun and sparks joy. You don’t even need to sit down and read if you don’t have the time. You can listen to audio books. You can even set the speed faster so you can listen to more books. Instead of listening talk radio, find some good podcasts. There are a bazillion of them out there now, especially since the pandemic started.
Here are some of my favorite podcasts. This is how I educate myself. You may enjoy different categories, but this may get your mind churning, and you can find different podcasts that you enjoy. You do you, and this is me:
Positive and/or educational
The Confidence Project
The BE A FORCE Podcast
Detail Therapy with Amy Landino
The Documentary Podcast
Don’t Keep Your Day Job
The Flourishing Experiment
Imani State of Mind
Optimal Living Daily
Room to Grow Podcast with Emily Gough
Stuff You Should Know
TED Radio Hour
TED Talks Daily
The Tim Ferris Show
Unlocking Us with Brene Brown
Work in Progress with Sophia Bush
7 Good Minutes with Clyde Lee Dennis
Fun and Entertaining
Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
Crazy Cat Paranormal Speaks
D23 Inside Disney
The Empire Film Podcast
Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum
Keith and the Girl
Rebel Force Radio: Star Wars Podcast
TV Guidance Counselor
WTF with Marc Maron
Running/Health & Fitness
The Book Review
The Creative Penn Podcast for Writers
Find Your Voice: How to Write When You’re Not a Writer
Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips For Better Writing
Helping Writers Become Authors
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day
So You Want To Be A Writer with Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait: Australian Writers’ Centre podcast
The SSR Podcast
Write About Now
Write Now with Sarah Werner
Write Now Workshop Podcast: Write a Book, Change the World with Kitty Bucholtz
Another form of education is a little difficult to do right now – travel. If we don’t become exposed to different people and cultures, we stay in our own little bubble, and don’t learn anything except something that is force-fed to us by somebody who only has their own self-interest in mind. Go and see things yourself. Luckily, I got to travel the world in the U.S. Navy and saw different cultures and loved them. But, one good recent example happened for one of my races.
I went to Birmingham, Alabama to do the Red Shoe Run for the Ronald McDonald House there. Now, if I believed everything MSNBC or CNN told me, I would have been expecting big, fat, toothless rednecks riding around the streets in their pickup trucks. That was very far from reality. It was diverse, and everybody was very friendly to this “yankee”. The day I was leaving was the day after the 2016 inauguration. I stopped by the Civil Rights Museum to pick up a couple of books I wanted. There is a park across the street from that museum. When I arrived, there was a protest gathering for women’s rights in response to the Trump presidency. Now if I was to believe Fox News, I would have expected dirty women burning and throwing their bras while people looted and rioted. Once again, far from reality. There was a stage where there were people taking turns speaking calmly. And there were tables set up around the perimeter of the park with packets of educational information, as well as organizations, and petitions to sign. It was quite educational seeing another form of democracy in action, besides voting. But, something like that would never be shown on the news, so I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. The news would have shown the rare protests where violence ensued.
For the most part, people are good and want to be happy. Educate yourself and free your mind from people and organizations who want to control you. Talk with people and listen to those who are willing to have a calm, non-toxic conversation.
There is a famous quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Well, Emerson’s quote that I mentioned earlier from his “Self-Reliance” essay was from the year 1841, and it is relevant today as it was almost 200 years ago. It’s about time to make some changes.
Well this was a lot longer than I expected. Let me know your thoughts on how education is freedom. If you check out any of the podcasts I listed, let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there are any good ones you enjoy.
Until next time, I’ll see you out on the Rhode.