How to Be a Guardian: My Graduation Address Continues

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WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT Graduation Address Part 2  By John F. Bailey June 29, 2018:

Everybody had a chance to stretch? Are you afraid of your future?

You have every right to be afraid. The older people you’re dealing with in power hate you because you have your lives ahead of you and I believe you are well aware of what’s going on today. But it’s no longer material for the late night comedians. The laughs get stuck in your throat, don’t they?

Back to The Guardians’ theme.

If you read the papers, or at least watch the late night comedians, you should grasp the serious problems of leadership America has right now.  The courts have been turned conservative. Hating of people who are not white is now in fashion. A generation of bad gringos at the top of America and in the Republican Party and in the Democratic Party have allowed this new neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant, anti people-without –a-lot-of-money to throw their weight around and seize power. They have wielded it irresponsibly damaging American tradition perhaps forever.

The Guardians in my generation have failed you. I never expected the horror of the Supreme Court rulings we have seen the last 18 months. The total irrationality of the Supreme Court (a corporation is a person? Please).

What the new conservative Supreme Court has proved is you can rationalize anything you want if you do not visualize the consequences of what you are ruling. (Again there is that devil’s word: rationalization.)

I never thought the bankers who bankrolled Mr. Trump were as stupid as they were when they bankrolled and forgave him time after time. If you, my future guardians default with a bank, you will lose it all. It is only the people who owe billions who get granted extensions unlimited.Banks have no mercy.

Now it is not easy to be a Guardian today.

But your mission is out there, should you choose to grasp it.

How many here know Plato’s definition of the Guardian?

Where is Socrates when you need him?

This is Socrates speaking  in Book 9 of The Republic, in which Socrates explains what it takes to be a Guardian, the Philospher King and how a Philospher King would address a supporter of injustice:

“…the supporter of justice makes answer that he should ever so speak and act as to give the man within him in some way or other the most complete mastery over the entire human creature. He should watch over the many-headed monster like a good husbandman, fostering and cultivating the gentle qualities, and preventing the wild ones from growing; he should be making the lion-heart his ally, and in common care of all should be uniting the several parts with another and with himself.”

“Come now and let us gently reason with the unjust, who is not intentionally in error. ‘Sweet sir,’ we will say to him, “what think you of things esteemed noble and ignoble? Is not the noble that which subjects the beast to the man, or rather  to the god in man? And the ignoble that which subjects man to the beast?” He can hardly avoid saying Yes – can he now?” But if he agree so far, we may ask him to answer another question:

“Then how would a man profit if received gold and silver on the condition that he was to enslave the noblest part of him to the worst? Who can imagine that a man who sold his son or daughter into slavery for money, especially if he sold them into the hands of fierce and evil men, would be the gainer, however large might be the sum which he received? And will anyone say that he is not a miserable caitiff  who remorselessly sells his own divine being to that which is most godless and detestable?”

Socrates notes “Why are mean employments and manual arts a reproach? Only because they imply a natural weakness of the higher principle; the individual is unable to control the creatures within him, but has to court them, and his great study is how to flatter them. Being desirous of placing him under a rule like that of the best, we say that he ought to be the servant of the best, in whom the divine rules..not to the injury of the servant, but because everyone had better be ruled by divine wisdom dwelling within him; or if this be impossible, then by an external authority, in order that we may be all, as far as possible, under the same government, friends and equals.”

“…the law is the ally of the whole city; and is seen also in the authority which we exercise over children, and the refusal to let them be free until we have established in them a principle analogus to the constitution of a State, and by cultivation of this higher element have set up in their hearts a guardian and ruler like our ow, and when this is done they may go their ways.”

“He will look at the city which is within him, and take heed that no disorder occur in it, as might arise either from superfluity or from want; and upon this principle he will regulate his property and gain and spend according to his means.”

Socrates set out this challenge to the youth of his day 450 years before the birth of Christ.

Now, graduates you are America’s last hope to set things right with America to hold the irresponsible and selfish leaders of today accountable for the desperate situation America faces today.

I am not exaggerating.

We’re leaving it all up to you…You Decide What You’re Going to do…Whether you’re  Going to Save America or are we Through?

You have to be the best you can be—championing  justice and human rights America once held dear that now in the new age of sophistry—have been trashed as weakening America. For God’s sake, immigrants built this country.

You students who are from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds you’re the real Americans and it is time to go to the pathetic local political organizations and become active, questioning, challenging and demanding truth, justice and the American Way.

It is your turn at the plate. And you’re in a big spot.

You doctors to be out there—challenge the corporate barons who run health today. Set up your own hospitals. Create clinics that care. Demand lower prescription prices, shun opiates. You know the issues–read the Hippocratic Oath take it to heart.

Lawyers-to-be represent the unrepresented. You’ll love yourself when you get home at night.

You writers out there start a website like mine and use your energy make money with it. You’re far smarter than me.

You business majors out there: bring a new ethic to business: helping people feel they can be part of a business team again.

You psychology and social workers out there: be independent and minister to neighborhoods like dedicated clergy—recreate your professions.

Teachers-to-be: it is time to take back the teaching profession from the bureaucracies and not be intimidated by the new teaching technique rage of the day.  Demand professionalism from your colleagues in an effective way. Never lose your enthusiasm to help to want to make a difference. It’s why good teachers are so happy. Every day they do good.

Artists—create art, photography that reaches the soul when someone looks at it.

Playwrights, Directors Producers aspirants: create stories that exalt human dignity and not assault it, something my generation has done all too well.

Journalists-to-be—do not be afraid of the powerful. You are the persons they fear the most. And this bit of advice every leader, spokesperson, elected official and employed government professional fears you and won’t or can’t tell you the truth. And after a few months they won’t return your calls.  And you have to study like hell to find the truth to get it out there.

Contractors, architects—dedicate yourselves to building what America needs affordable housing on a grand scale that is energy efficient and is not dependent on banks’ largesse to finance that. How do we do that? You will find a way.

Dream your dreams and rescue America in the process.

It’s up to all of you the new Guardians to bring America Back to what we once were before

We have messed your America up for you real good.

And now you like generations before have the challenge the forefathers had: Create us again with your courage, hope, and the courage to be at your best – always.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for you.

Just a little pressure on you.

Pressure is tough, but it makes you a better person.

Go get them, kids.


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