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Why Johnny Can't Think

Author: Spirit Walk Ministry
Posted: June 21st. 2009
Times Viewed: 4,462

The reason "Johnny Can’t Think" is simple: the education system was built on an authoritarian foundation. Societies and their institutions use education as a tool to condition and control the masses. The indoctrination of non-questioning and obedient workers is the primary goal of the schooling.

If Johnny can’t think then Johnny can’t question, if Johnny can’t question then Johnny can’t reason, if Johnny can’t reason then Johnny will accept what he is told and Johnny will do what he is told.

"All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal valuable knowledge. The theological knowledge, which they conceal, cannot justly be regarded as less valuable than that which they reveal. That is, when a man is buying a basket of strawberries it can profit him to know that the bottom half of it is rotten. "- Mark Twain

There is a very dangerous movement developing the United States. The banning books has become commonplace and over the past decade the number of formal demands for the removal of books from public and school libraries has increased by more than 50 percent.

Many of those advocating the book-banning claim a book's subject matter is promoting a particular political or moral agenda. For example, a book that contains profanity may be condemned as one that encourages children to use profane language, or its portrayal of a rebellious individual is condemned as urging children toward anti-authoritarian and anti-religious behavior.

Among the most-banned books are some of the greatest classics in literature. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has been banned ostensively because it contains the word "nigger." However, if you were to look closely at the story, another reason for banning this book would become obvious.

The central plot of the story involves Huckleberry Finn and a runaway slave named Jim traveling on the river so that Jim can escape his master and gain his freedom. Throughout the story, Huckleberry Finn is tormented by his complicity in helping Jim to escape. Huck has been told by his preacher that helping a runaway slave is akin to stealing from the slave’s owner and as the Bible forbids stealing, he will be banished to Hell for his sin.

Should Huck help Jim escape and risk being condemned to Hell? This decision is traumatic for Huck, as it forces him to reject everything "society" has taught him. Huck chooses to help Jim, based on his own personal ethics rather than authoritarian dictates, thus choosing "morality" over "blind obedience".

So, what is really behind the attempts to ban Huckleberry Finn is not that the book contains an offensive word, but that it advocates ethical judgment over blind obedience to authority as a conscientious guideline for moral decisions.

This has been the hidden agenda of education since the dawn of civilization. The ancient Greeks used education as a tool to control the masses and anything or anyone who challenged the teachings of society was eradicated, as tragically illustrated in the story of Socrates.

With the arrival of the Christian Church a new and even more authoritarian era of control in education began. Reading and study was limited to the Bible and that only sanctioned for the priests and monks of the Church. The people were dogmatically prohibited from learning to read. Those who did learn to read and questioned the morality of this edict were condemned as either heretics or witches. Following the loss of almost all the ancient texts in the burning of the Library of Alexandria, the Vatican Library became the sole repository of all written ancient knowledge and the books it contains have been kept sequestered from the common people, even on to this day.

“The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning.... And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.” - John Adams

It is because of these things that the goal of education, or any study, should not be just the imparting of wisdom and knowledge, but the empowering of the student to think.

Mark Twain wrote…“I knew I should not find in any philosophy a single thought which had not passed through my own head, nor a single thought which had not passed through the heads of millions and millions of men before I was born.

Therefore, the importance is not in the student discovering “new ideas” but in the students awakening to their ability to question “old ideas” and to discover their own individual moral perspective, as did Huckleberry Finn.

Mark Twain also wrote… “But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me.

Perhaps, when we cannot find Huckleberry Finn in our library, we should not be as forgiving as Mr. Twain. The banning of a book is the banning of an idea and no idea, no matter how personally repugnant we may find that idea is so dangerous that it cannot be placed before mankind to examine and judge, with perhaps one exception.

The only dangerous idea is that by censoring the expression of an idea that the idea itself is eradicated. Somewhere that idea still lives. It may lay silent and momentarily dormant, but it still lives. In whatever mind that idea lives it resides in a brain within a body and it is that body that those who seek to ban books will turn to. It was never the “idea” of witchcraft that was burned, but the witch whose mind held that idea. As the saying goes, “Those who burn people start by burning books.”

The reason that the banning of books and the knowledge they contain is best summed up by Abigail Adams who wrote… “Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence”.

Now is a time to maintain that diligence.


Spirit Walk Ministry

Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts


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