Madison County Opinion...

March 27, 2002


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
March 27, 2002

Frankly Speaking

Arts should be emphasized in schools
Once again two news stories caught my attention last week. I reported to you that a parents group supporting art education made a presentation to the Board of Education. At the same time a report from a national education group was critical of Georgia’s core curriculum saying that it is too “shallow.”
I agree with both of these reports, but not necessarily for the reasons given by the reporting groups.
First, the human brain must be exercised in order to develop. Mental exercise consists of learning to compute math with a pencil and paper. It consists of learning the parts of a sentence and proper construction of paragraphs and essays. These exercises need to be performed repeatedly.
You cannot develop your body by doing an occasional push-up. You have to do thousands of them. You cannot develop the power of your mind by watching a computer solve mathematical problems. You have to do them manually, thousands of times!
Now the thing that sets the human mind apart from lower animals, in addition to its capacity, is the ability to communicate symbolically. Our minds can capture the mood of a sunset without having it described in words. We can understand the emotions of a painting, grasp the patterns of well-composed and performed music and move with the rhythm of a dance.
But again, the mind has to be trained to gain maximum benefit from this ability. That is the great value of art education. To be fully human, we must develop the full capacity of our minds, especially our artistic abilities.
Today, we are surrounded with what I call “junk art.” People produce noise and call it music. They throw a jumble of words together and call it poetry. They splash paint on a canvas and call it art. Why? Because true art education has all but disappeared from our schools.
Some time ago, I developed a concept of complete education. I found that our world consists of two elements, the physical and spiritual. To understand the physical world we study science. To understand the spiritual we turn to theology. But that is not enough. We seek ways to express each of these concepts in terms of the other. When we seek to express the spiritual world in physical terms, we turn to philosophy. To express the spiritual world in physical terms, we developed the arts.
Our school programs are shallow because we do not exercise the minds of our children. They are shallow because we fail to include a meaningful education in all four disciplines — science, theology, philosophy and art.
That is the true failure of our schools. We do not need more money to make our schools better. We need a program that gives our children a complete education. I believe that our teachers have the ability to do this without more computers or other technology. If our teachers were given an opportunity to fully educate children rather than trying to teach from inadequate government blueprints, then fill out endless forms showing that they do so, we will have better, smarter, more knowledgeable and well-rounded students.
Our kids deserve a complete education. To offer them less is unacceptable.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
March 27, 2002

From the Editor's Desk

Saddam, the combustible
Many feel Saddam Hussein is as combustible as the riches under his feet. Others see him as the inflated-head caricature of political cartoons, far less threatening than a destruction-minded despot of doomsday.
Whatever he is, we’d prefer him gone. But there’s a division between those who want one of our Daisy Cutter bombs to do him in and others who’d prefer we wait until the wind blows his mustard gas back at him.
Iraq, which was so easily bombed into submission a decade ago, has failed to live up to its terms of surrender by keeping weapons inspectors away.
Many say Hussein is denying his people basic services so he can develop an array of biological and nuclear weapons, perhaps hiding them in schools, libraries, hospitals — any place that would prove politically troublesome for the U.S. to bomb.
According to an article by Seymour Hersh in the March 11 issue of The New Yorker, President Bush has set an April 15th deadline for establishing a “coagulated plan” between U.S. government agencies in ending the Hussein regime.
The intent — to get rid of Hussein — seems appropriate. But that’s where the simplicity ends.
Of course, many across the globe will view a U.S. attack on Iraq as a personal vendetta, an attempt by Bush to silence those who criticized his dad for not ousting Hussein when he had the chance. But this hardly seems relevant.
Bigger problems, which were outlined in Hersh’s article, include these: What if the U.S. bombs Iraq and Hussein fires Scud missiles at Israel as he did in the Gulf War, when he launched 39 missiles? The U.S. talked Israel out of heavy retaliations back then, but Ariel Sharon is as hawkish as they come. Israel may fight back with 10 times the force they were hit with. This may establish a true dividing line between East and West sympathizers, setting the stage for an enormous conflict. Also, where is the Northern Alliance of Iraq? Many of Hussein’s enemies may not be exactly itching to jump on board with the U.S., which is widely hated in the region.
Perhaps the inner-Iraq ally could be the Kurds, the victims of Hussein’s chemical attacks over a decade ago? The Kurds seek statehood, but Hussein has led an ethnic cleansing campaign against them, going as far as changing names on gravestones from Kurdish to Arabic. Kurds surely hate Hussein, but they may be reluctant to ally with the U.S. until America totally commits to ousting the despot. A Kurdish revolt with little U.S. backing would be suicidal.
There are valid criticisms of plans to remove Hussein. One is that the U.S. has propped up many dictators in the past, including Hussein, to serve its own interests. Some rightly ask, “don’t we support a Saudi Arabian regime which allows Islamic fanaticism to thrive, and where several of the World Trade Center bombers are from?”
Yes, and we should take a hard look at Saudi Arabia and other countries where we ignore the mistreatment of people so we can get our way economically. Right or wrong, many see our economic profits off poor lands as indifference to their suffering. And frankly, we are — with shining exceptions — indifferent to troubles that don’t affect us immediately, but that ugly trait is not unique to Americans.
But back to Iraq. Hussein’s refusal to let weapons inspectors into the country should not be taken lightly. It would, of course, seem unfair to us to have any other country come tell us what weapons we can and can’t produce. But if we tried to take over another land, as Iraq did with Kuwait, then surrendered in a war over it, we’d have to face the consequences — the terms of surrender — or risk further bloodshed. We know that. They should know that.
In most books, failure to hold up your end of a bargain in a surrender agreement is a declaration of war, a reason to move back in and finish the job.
No president should sit back and watch as Hussein breaks his end of the deal, develops weapons, then uses them against us.
So it’s reasonable to assume that Bush will try to put out the flames before they’re lit by Hussein again — literally.
In the meantime we wait, hoping our leaders can tread their way through the minefield of Middle Eastern politics, where there are few sure steps and many explosives.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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