Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ranting hard to maintain

I've reached a point where I don't have the energy to rant. Today's news that the humble and beautiful butterfly may become a thing of the past should have me up in arms, but honestly, what's the point?

They say people fall into two camps: those who think human beings are intrinsically good, and those who say we're rotten to the core. I want to believe I'm part of the former, but honestly, how can I when I see how people continue to live their lives? When it's clearly a majority of people who refuse to accept that our lives are unsustainable, who will find any excuse (even one lone, dissenting voice among hundreds) to deny the damage that is going on around them.

Ultimately I believe humans are intrinsically neutral. We are, after all, no more special than any other living creature that walks, crawls or flies on this earth. When it suits us, we set ourselves above everything else, but of course when it's pointed out that what makes us superior is what should make us act with less selfishness and more consideration, we're conveniently relegated to the level of our fellow species.

It's what happens to people as they grow, and are educated, that ultimately determines whether or not we become "bad" or "good", or some shade in-between. One of my personal beliefs is that successive governments have been systematically dumbing down the education system over the course of the last three or four decades because they don't want a population that can ask awkward questions of it. The result has been more people voting to remove media-hungry idiots from the Big Brother house than have voted in general elections. Or more people complaining about the latest reality show's vote rigging than the slow, insidious erosion of civil liberties. It's ironic I feel so strongly about that last point, because I'm increasingly of the opinion that democracy doesn't work.

Still, I ought to have something to back up this latest post, so here it is: 18 universities are introducing their own admissions examinations because they no longer believe that a candidate's ability can be gauged on the strength of their 'A' Level results (see here). People fiercely deny that A Levels and GCSEs are "dumbing down" year after year, but it's true. And it was true in my day - some of the questions on my papers were ridiculously easy (multiple choice in Chemistry, "spot the difference" in A Level Geography).

I could start another rant about how we need to stop aiming at the lowest common denominator and start encouraging people to look up instead of down, but honestly, what's the point?

No comments: