Last night I read Albert Jay Nock’s essay The Disadvantages of Being Educated. If you haven’t read it, please do before you read my reaction below. Without the context, the ramblings below will come off as arrogance and self-absorbed. I know this is hard Internet, but I’ve asked nicely. You can read the essay for yourself here. Or pick it up on Amazon. Any non-Statist leaning person would enjoy his work.
The disadvantages of being educated was a milestone read for me. Not since reading Ron Paul’s Revolution have I had that calming, and at the same time nervous feeling of belonging to an idea. The words didn’t speak to me, they spoke for me. They were meant for me to read. Nock’s tounge-in-cheek attitude towards being educated described the voice in my head.
The view of schooling and “educational institutions” today is backwards from what I’ve always felt. It never felt like I was being allowed to question or think. I was there to train. To learn a skill and jump on the highway of “normal life”. The “uneducated” as Nock calls them have the advantage of ignorance. An ignorance so pure they do not even feel ignorant. They have nothing to compare their outlooks to. Everyone and everything around them is on that the same highway, having the same outlook.
The thirst for real morality, to learn the past, to understand what is to come is lost on the “trained”. They may know history. But they do not see value in learning from it and applying it to their present. Ideas like this are not provided to them on the training track. It is not cultivated. Having these ideas could affect their ability to “fit in” and be social. There is nothing wrong with the ability to be social in that sense. Being mainstream. But the underlining reason for the need for acceptance in society are rooted in the ability to “get ahead”. The training schools teach that. The focus is on a career, money-making.
I have never felt these needs. Before these small checkpoints in my life where I have run into ideals and views that expressed my own feeling what life is about, it felt like a burden. Like not fitting in was my fault. But it is not. It’s not the fault of anyone. It is simply a different outlook on life. My thirst to understand and objectively analyze each event of culture, social order, politics and the world in general is that of the educated. To educate is a verb. It is an unending journey. It is a calling.
I believe the burden is worth the sacrifice of the more blissful happiness of the highway of the trained. What the educated give to society is a perspective most of it doesn’t have the time or inclination to look through.
I will finish with a simple quote from the first person I introduced myself to that helped me find my place, Ron Paul always pointed to changing “hearts and minds” as the true goal. His was an “educational campaign”. For the sake of society I hope the educated are always there to help balance the ship.