Getting to the Bottom of It (On Real Education)

Getting to the Bottom of It (On Real Education) March 15, 2019

Long ago cartoons, programming for younglings, most happened on Saturday morning.

I recall looking forward to the new shows. . . What is Super Friends? Scooby-doo? Hong Kong Phooey?

This was not the best of cartoon times.

Mom and Dad “let” me get up early and watch what was worth watching. . . My generation may have come to traditionalism by noticing that the old cartoons (Bugs Bunny! Daffy! Mickey!) were so much better than Speed Buggy.

After cartoons, we would hang out with Mom and talk. Dad often had to go to work, but when he returned, Mom and I were often still in the kitchen talking. Dad was a tolerant man.

Mom would ask us questions and we would answer, best we could. Mom took our ideas seriously and if she did not like our answers, and too much Isaac Asimov could produce facile responses, she was patient, endlessly patient.

We should, she said, “get to the bottom of it.”

This meant nothing was out of bounds, except lies. Sometimes I would give what I guessed she wanted me to say and not what I thought.

No good.

Honesty was required to get to the bottom of it … and time.

When I was a kid, I took for granted that Mom wanted to spend her Saturday discussing “cool friends,” “science fiction and fact, the Civil War, and my particular 1970’s sartorial choices. She was never judge or jury, just relentlessly fond of honesty.

I recollect posturing… giving some “party line.” I defended the North in the Civil War, because the North won and because our family had sided with the Union.

Not good enough for Mom.

We need to be real, consider other arguments, and side with truth, even if truth was a loser. Oddly, we ended up backing the Union (again),  but differently. We had, best we could, considered the alternatives and had chosen Lincoln and liberty.

That’s how it went many Saturdays.

We often got, best we could, to the bottom of it.

What was there?

The “bottom” was what seemed true to us with all our hesitations, doubts, and problems expressed. The “bottom” was when we agreed that we had come to the best answer, for now, we could find. The “bottom” was when we had moved aside all our sludge to find the rock on which to build our ideas.

It was odd, mayhaps, to start the day with mindless animation and end it with dialectic and cookies.

But it was good and I recommend it for anyone that can emulate what Mom gave us. She let us be kids and then helped us come to mature Christian adulthood by the severe mercy of the dialectic. I liked it.  That’s important. Nobody could have paid me to burn a precious Saturday on “work,’’ but this was the pursuit of truth .. . No holds barred.

This is real education. Somebody who loved me wanted me to get to what I thought …my best thoughts…whatever those might be.

What could be better than that? At every  turn Mom (and Dad too!) were clear. They had no desire for me to conform if that meant fluff, half-truth, or refusing to find the bottom: truth.

Thanks, Mom.


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