We're not dead yet

Sarah Hoyt is a Portuguese immigrant science fiction writer whose work I've never read, but she has a good blog.  A post from earlier this week on the sorry state of public education drew an amazing number of comments with even more amazing horror stories.  (A favorite anecdote:  her son once let the cat out of the bag, informing his teachers that his mom used the public school as a babysitter for eight hours every day so she could get some writing done, after which his real education took place at home during the three hours or so after school let out.)

Today's post responds to the depressed nature of many of the comments:
Yes, our education is beyond screwed up.  BUT here’s the thing, fundamentally they’re not transforming anything.  Fundamentally, the US is descended from or populated by people who said “I can’t take this anymore” and moved.  That is a completely different stock from those who stayed. 
Even the Mexican immigrants who are simply walking over the border, are different from the ones who stay.   (In fact, our economy has caused a wave of returning immigrants who ARE fundamentally transforming Mexico – and good for them.) 
I don’t think most Americans – or most colonials in general – FULLY realize how different. The tendency of humans is to clan: to stay near family and childhood friends. It’s also territorial.  You cleave to familiar landscapes.  The only way to get masses of people to move, normally, is famine or war. 
Most of us and most of our ancestors (with exceptions) moved long before it got to that point.  That it wasn’t to that point is attested to by the fact that most of our/our ancestors’ relatives stayed behind.
Well, maybe I'll have to try her science fiction.


Cass said...

We love anecdotes, but they're not always reflective of broad trends. Whenever I hear scary stories, I think, "OK, but how typical is this?"

Sometimes, the answer may be, "Very typical", but we shouldn't assume that on no evidence but our own blood pressure spikes :p

Being on a forum of like-minded individuals isn't what I'd call a random sample. But I think her point about the character of the country is well taken.

Eric Blair said...

Yes, there is something to it. I work with a lot of immigrants--mostly Russians (actually Jewish Russians) who hoofed it as soon as the USSR folded. They are are to a person, successful individuals.

A friend of mine told me a tale of how he and his father took a trip to Scotland and found the area where his ancestors had come from, and found the folk there not welcoming. Apparently their basic attitude was that those who had emigrated were basically losers for not being able to make it in the old country.

RonF said...

I have long told people that the reason that the U.S. is "ungovernable" (which, to the people using that term, actually means "not compliant to our wishes") is that it is filled with the descendants of people who were the least likely to want to be governed in the country they came from. It's genetic!

Cass said...

Natural selection :)