Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Celebrating talent

Read first and then watch the videos if you wish.

Now and then the troubles of the world just get me down. Focusing on politics is inherently depressing because politics attracts the worst kind of people. Worse, it gives these people power to inflict harm on others -- and they do, often in copious measurements.

There is only so much of this one can take before retreating and seeking some sanity or solace elsewhere. What lifts my spirit are two things: talent and romantic/comedy.

As to the latter I love love. In my pantheon of emotions love is the highest there is. And laughter heals all wounds. There is nothing so depressing as some grim, humorless individual moralizing about a proper “sense of life” or God, or duty. So I enjoy retreating to films that make me laugh and which make me feel good -- I love to see the happy endings. Life has so few of them that it is art’s proper role to give us them in abundant supply.

And the second thing I enjoy is talent. I’m not a sports fan but I remember watching the World Cup when South Africa won. I watched it merely because I knew how much the team wanted that victory. I knew how much the fans wanted that victory. And it made me feel good to see it happen.

In similar vein I often read the stories of athletes at the Olympics and what they did to get where they were. Their struggle for greatness makes me feel good about the world. I see this in some talent shows as well. And this evening I was watching excerpts from a British talent show.

I was blown away time after time with some of the talent I saw and it got me to thinking. Here are young people that we dismiss as “just kids” doing phenomenal things. It takes dedication, discipline and character to develop the talents that these young people have developed. Over and over they show a maturity well above what we expect from “kids”.

But why are we surprised? It’s because we sell our kids short. Our culture, over the last several decades mostly, has systematically excluded the young from life. We have sequestered them in state institutions called schools for the first two decades of their life. We have passed laws to prevent them from working and developing talent.

We have basically excluded them from the adult world almost entirely and then lament their inability to grow up. There are a few areas where we still allow them to participate and compete with adults -- and one area is entertainment. We allow kid actors, kid singers, kid dancers, etc. And we see some incredible talents emerging because this talent is allowed to emerge.

I believe that young people are far more capable than we acknowledge these days. There was a time when “just kids” were settling the West, exploring new regions, farming, building businesses, etc. But we got the idea that schooling was important. Please note schooling is not the same thing as education -- many school graduates are uneducated. The trade unions and the educational bureaucracy both had reasons to shackle young people to this awful system called state education. It is in their interests to push the myth that government schools are a good thing.

So our kids get isolated from adults and never become socialized by adults. They don’t learn the most important lesson of life -- how to be a functioning adult. They spend their time with other kids. Their role models are just as lost as they are. And one result is the artificial extension of childhood. More and more individuals are reaching their 20s or 30s without having a clue as to what it means to be grown up. A few generations ago young people in the mid teens were doing things which adults of 24 or 30 are terrified of doing. It isn’t that the previous generations had talent. It was that the system didn’t intentionally cripple their maturity. Today the educational establishment does just that -- it cripples the young.

So I enjoy the talent shows because they show, time after time, that there are individuals who are “just kids” who can knock the socks off of 95% of the adults they’d compete against. And I think its great. Enjoy some of the stars I watched tonight. Relish in their ability and celebrate their ability. I have posted a few of the performances that I enjoyed for your enjoyment as well.

PS: There is one excellent book on this topic called The Case Against Adolescence by Dr. Richard Epstein. Laissez Faire Books now has copies on sale for $18.95 if you order them through their toll free number at 1-866-686-7210. This book will change the way you look at the young.