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Never try to insult a mad woman, especially not one as shameless and unapologetic as I. For the upteenth time, somebody on the intertoobz decided to try and call me an uneducated imbecile. With complete sincerity, I am so grateful for this. Forget my usual sarcasm, in this case I genuinely mean it. Why, you ask? Well, because I always realize how unbelievably blessed I have been, what a remarkable education I’ve had, and what a gift that has been. But for the grace of God, I would be the imbecile, pointing fingers and basking in my own sense of educated elitism. See, I rather miraculously avoided much of the indoctrination of academia. Ironically, my parents kept me out of public school because they didn’t want The Man, the Right, Christianity, to taint me. In their defense they had no idea that the world was going to flip over, that the far Left was going to become The Man, that religion was going to be pushed out of schools, that an entirely different kind of propaganda was going to march across the country and start to permeate every aspect of our culture.

First a word on indoctrination. You can’t escape it. We are all products of our environments. We live in a 24/7 news cycle full of advertising jingles and sound bytes. Whether we like it or not, we are being relentlessly brainwashed, indoctrinated, and manipulated. It is especially insidious because it tends to hit us on a subconscious level. It is so prevalent in our modern culture that our conscious brains attempt to tune it all out, so we soak much of it up subliminally. It bypasses discernment, sneaks in under our reasoning brains, and begins to influence our decision making. There is a whole science behind it, with much of the ground breaking work done by the Nazis. Ask anybody in advertising or politics about the history of their craft. Their jobs revolve around brainwashing, around triggering an emotional response and manipulating our belief systems and our loyalties. It’s creepy stuff. Most people have no idea how vulnerable we all are.

Next, a word on intelligence. I am extremely intelligent and yet I have no respect for intelligence at all. Serial killers can be intelligent, cult leaders, fascists. A bit of intelligence mixed with charisma can do a whole lot of harm in the world. Intelligence is meaningless to me, I value wisdom, empathy, integrity, far more. Some of the wisest people I have ever met have had a two digit IQ. Intelligence also has nothing to do with academia, education, or pieces of paper. In fact, if you’re smart enough you can buy yourself a degree and get a piece of a paper that declares you to be an expert on philosophy, political science, or the law. I have no respect for such things. If you open your mouth and moron pours out, don’t try to slap me upside the head with your alleged credentials as if that is some sort of compensation for your obvious lack of critical thinking skills. I flat out don’t care.

So forget my formal education credentials.  I want to pay tribute to my informal education, to the gifts I have received in the form of the wisdom of our elders. All of the collective intelligence of the human race is not in the Google, it is in these folks. I have been privileged enough to have been entrusted with their stories, to have received their wisdom, to have heard their individual songs, songs woven right into their DNA. From my World War ll vets I learned a lot about honor, integrity, and the sacrifices made by the greatest generation. From the women who saw the invention of the automobile, and sadly came from a time when it was normal to loose half tweetyyour children to disease before the age of five, I learned about being strong in the broken places and about the power of grace. From those who fled tyranny and fascism, I have learned about the strength of the human spirit and it’s longing to be free. From those who left the Dust Bowl and those who stayed behind, I learned about the triumph of hope over experience, about the relentless tenacity that flows through people who have lost everything….and yet get up the next day and try even harder. Some of these stories have been told to me by people who only had had a 4th grade education, but they spent 102 years in the school of hard knocks. Veterans, loggers, bridge builders, women who ran boarding houses and washed laundry for pennies a day. I have witnessed heart breaking grief, tremendous reconciliation and healing, and learned a great deal about the mysteries of the world we live in and the human experience.

Those elders are the people who built this great country of ours. I carry their stories within me like a sacred trust.