Some great connections...
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
My comments on the posts of the villagers who stop by get long sometimes, so, once again, I'm hanging a response to a comment (fsjl's final one on the "Wise Woman" post of October 7), here. We know different groups of people use words differently, even though they all speak the same language. A fave example is the word “bad,” which in African American Vernacular English means something different from it means in Canadian English. So when fsjl wonders what standards the young people he teaches have, maybe we should consider whether the word "standard" means to them what it means to him. A standard is (I think) a measure, a criterion of some kind, a benchmark used to judge. A standard applies when there is awareness and acceptance that it IS a measure, and when there is a sense of accumulating behaviour, the notion that the things that we do add up. (Caution: Even when repeated behaviours appear to signify a standard, they may not. Many people who refrain from eating pork can't tell you why they don't eat it, in which case I’d think it's a "style" or a "habit" (and a blind one), not a standard. If it’s done for religious reasons, or health reasons, or some other reason that the abstainer can name (they may be fond of pigs), then it becomes a standard. The standard in the pig-lovers case would be: “I don't eat animals that I'm fond of.”) But we should consider that some people may simply act, behave, do stuff each day, and repeat the stuff when the next day comes. If this is true, then perhaps those behaviours that fsjl’s students value - wanting "bling", consuming expensive items, using women just for sex – are just (blind?) habits and not measures of anything. When "those who should set the standard" have no standards, younger folks never get to see standard-based behaviour. We all know the best way to recognize a duck: if it acts like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc., etc. If institutions of learning lack standards, businessmen lack standards, governments lack standards, clergy lack standards (preach forgiveness, don't forgive: preach moderation, grab at money, etc., etc.), how are the young supposed to grasp the idea of "standard"? When we were growing up, my father fed us little sayings like: "Genius is the infinite capacity for taking pains;" "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." But he didn't only say those things, he did exactly (or almost exactly) as he said. And so I think I know a standard as well as I know a duck. More anon.