the straight and narrow

There’s an article in the New York Times today about home-schooled evangelical Christian kids going to a new college that’s aimed entirely at them and then going on to get internships in high-ranking right-wing political offices. This really disturbs me: the right-wing political establishment is narrow-minded enough as it is, but this way it can only get more so, with its people all raised the same way and coming from the same background.

I understand that people have different religious beliefs, and I totally understand the impulse that makes some parents want to home-school their kids. There are definitely a lot of bad influences out there in the world, and it’s natural to want to protect your children. But I also believe that what we need most in the world is tolerance and understanding, and I’ve always felt that the key to achieving this elusive goal is to expose ourselves as much as possible to the differences–and the common ground–between human beings. Living in Berkeley has taught me that much, if nothing else. When I see people who are really intolerant or prejudiced, I often feel it’s because of the way they’ve been raised, the environment, the community and the messages they’ve been given.

It scares me to think that these kids have been sheltered in their homes or in a community of only like-minded people for their entire lives, and now, when they are going off to their first taste of adult independence and all that comes with it, they’re still being surrounded only by others like them. How will they ever be able to understand the rest of the world? Will they even want to, when everyone they care about is just like them? And then they go off and get internships with right-wing politicians, who will fill them even more with the rhetoric they’ve grown up with, and it just seems to me like this is a breeding ground for either bigots or people who just can’t relate to others who aren’t like them.

I’m overreacting, I hope. It’s likely many of these students are perfectly normal people who will grow up to have just as much tolerance as the rest of America *ahem*. But this is just such a different path from the one I’d hope to take… it’s just so safe and so sheltered and so narrow. Agh. It scares me that this is happening. This country is getting polarized, and schools and communities and efforts like this are doing nothing to help bring us back together.

On a lighter note: another article, about Tickle.com (formerly eMode.com), has this funny quote about the problem with using online personality tests for finding dates:

With all tests a significant number of people are likely to pick the most impressive rather than the most honest answers. “People don’t want to show others that they are very anxious and want to kill people,” Dr. Westen said.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]

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