"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Saturday, 14 July 2018


As an observer of the world (Canadian, retired, and relatively well-off), I have the luxury of time to synthesize ideas. I am the product, after all, of a liberal arts education. This doesn't mean that my leaning is anti- conservative. It means my education has left me free to apply thought that is outside the box. Liberal in this situation derives from the Latin, liberalis, meaning free.

A liberal education encourages the learner to research and synthesize their own ideas - in other words, become a free thinker.

Ironically, a liberal education for all is exactly what many politicians, especially conservative ones, would prefer to avoid. Free thinkers are harder to lead about by the nose. Someone has to be really smart and subversive to do that. Interestingly, smart, subversive people make good leaders.

Sadly too, it seems to me that people who wish to rule a docile, hard working population accidentally notice the word liberal in front of education and take an immediate dislike to it.

This past week, the newly-elected Conservative Party majority in Ontario has declared that the Health Education guideline in place since 2015 is to be replaced by the one that preceded it; written in 1998 and devoid of any mention of gay or transgender folk, and avoiding any discussion of consent or cyber-safety ... basically avoiding any discussion of sex.

Perhaps if the Liberal Party of Canada, or Ontario, or whatever, were to call themselves the Middle of the Road Party, and leave the word liberal alone, then bullies who are politicians might ignore education policy and leave it to educators.  The Middle of the Road Party should do that too, by the way.

It is no coincidence to me that the majority of folks I call friends have benefitted from a liberal arts education. Even those who have gone on to acquire practical skills still manage to apply free thinking effectively.

One of the very best things about giving your children a liberal education: they don't need to listen to anyone else (yes, including you) to know what they think about a topic. They will learn to do that for themselves.

If you love someone, liberate them.


  1. I too am a product of a liberal arts education, (Ed-Psych/Philosophy). Nevertheless, having barely survived my misguided youth, l have matured into a staunch fiscal conservative while still holding on to my own personal devotion to God, family and country. I personally owe them all a great deal including my current good fortune.
    Sadly l fear that those touting the benefits of a liberal education have lost sight of the fact that unless one is willing to actually surrender one's own independent thought and values, you will be summarily labeled a heretic , swine, bigot or worse.
    Your words, thoughts, and any ideas not in strict adherence to the "liberal/progressive" dogma,will be disparaged at best and/or banned/buried unseen as is most often the case.

    1. I am definitely resigned to the reality that my thoughts will mostly be unseen; hopefully not banned or buried. 

      I must take issue with your sentence that claims it is a fact that surrender of one's independent thought and values is necessary in order to be accepted. I don't know where you live, but it has been my experience here that refusing to being bound by other peoples' or institution's values has worked out very well indeed for me. 

      If there are those who label me a heretic or so forth, that is their problem, not mine. 

      Setting the education documents of a whole province based on a popularity contest - hoping to avoid being labelled in some negative way is wrong headed at the least. We need to prepare young people to live in the world of today; not some imagined wonderful past.

  2. It appears I misunderstand. I have found that unless I strictly comform to the conventional wisdom as promulgated by today's liberal colleges, I am summarily defined as a hater and or bigot.
    Just ask any American liberal what they think of Trump's "America First" agenda. Trump's approach is a clear divergence of leftist, liberal thought. Yet it was that very agenda that got him elected.
    I think the reaction of American Democrats speaks volumes. So I will respectfully disagree with your conclusion that our schools prepare our youth for the future.

  3. I think there will always be limits on how free our thinking can be. That's okay, so long as we try to be honest about about self or societal restrictions. I shudder when I hear the word "normal" being used, as if that describes the heights to which we can aspire.
    One must also be aware that all "ideologies" [I use that word loosely!], whether conservative, liberal, socialist, scientific, religious, etc. do not become dogmas that carry the 'we are right, you are wrong' tag. In general I would be surprised to find any free-thinking individual fitting into any system of thought. It would be like slipping on a thinking strait-jacket.
    [Can't stop any longer. Just moved into our new house. Lots to do!]

    1. Couldn't agree more about avoiding labels in order to maintain freedom of thought. Almost as though, once we define ourselves, we are then bound to keep the "party line". When I found myself attending a church regularly in my younger days, the "we/they dichotomy" was stifling.

      Perhaps you might post about your new home to let us all read about it Tom.

  4. Hi Halle,
    From this post I thought this book I found interesting, may also appeal- that is unless you have already read it. It is called ‘The Outsider’ by Colin Wilson. It’s a thoughtful literary style attempt to cover the ideas of his chosen outsiders; Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Hemingway, van Gogh, Hermann Hesse and Lawrence of Arabia, Kierkegaard, Blake etc. Those who all were seen(from the eyes of the writer) as outsider’s to reject the conservatism that existed then.
    I do think the conservative style thinking often likes to go back to the so called traditional values. The end process negates what progress we make in including more informed laws that reflect a more enlightened view of the world.
    Best wishes

    1. Hullo Lindsay,
      Yes I've read that book, many years ago. Now I shall be going on a search in the vast collection we laughingly refer to as the library.

      It isn't so much the negation of what some call progress that rankles. It has more to do with the knee jerk reaction politicians so often have. A few noisy people, in love with a mythical past, who often have no real knowledge, drive the agenda. The ultimate example of a squeaky wheel causing the whole cart to be covered in grease.

      If second sober thought and a decent rationale was presented, I would not complain about a reversal of policy.

  5. I seem unable to make a clear representation of of my feelings towards what is commonly referred to as a liberal arts education as opposed to one directed towards the hard sciences.
    Yes, a liberal arts education should enable, in fact encourage independent thought. My point is that today, attending almost any, in fact the vast majority of colleges in America, requires a strict adherance to a highly structured and dogmatic "progressive" (socialistic) mindset.
    Any attempt at questioning such a mindset is met with a hail of negative consequences.

  6. My dear Halle! I agree with you that the "we/they dichotomy" is stifling. Too many people here, be they backward-thinking or forward-thinking, see merely black versus white, us versus them. Whether in a university setting, in an organized religious setting, in a factory environment, etc., my experience has been that too many people shy away from independent thought, avoid "thought that is outside the box," as you explain in your post.
    In my case, I was a first-generation college student. When people ask me what I gleaned from my university days (especially from my graduate studies), I answer that I learned to work hard, distinguish between primary- and secondary-source materials, to appreciate libraries, to listen to others, to ask questions, and to discuss and converse with civility and respect. I view the world as a big, multi-faceted place with many "boxes." And I firmly believe that the choice to 'obey' dogma is an individual's choice. You, my dear Halle, have the strength to make independent choices, and I cherish you for that.
    (And I'd like to say Hallo to Tom!)

    1. Wasn't it wonderful to hear and see the respect shown between political opponents before and during the services for the late John McCain? It gives one hope for the future of a great nation.

      And thank you for that compliment dear R.