Evil and the Conservative Mind

 

shutterstock_59006443I lost an argument the other day. It wasn’t one of those arguments that you lose because you didn’t care or because you didn’t try. It wasn’t an argument that you lose for a lack of articulation or for an inability to make others see what you see. It was the sort of argument that you lose simply because the law wasn’t on your side. That’s a difficult loss to take, and trying to sleep that night, exhausted and alert, as if shouting as loud as I could in an attempt to locate silence, I knew it was a problem for which I would find a solution only years after the opportunity had passed. Immediately after the argument, I stepped out and took a little walk with my client, a 14 year old girl, just to get her away from all the commotion of the courtroom. We talked about a lot of things, and anticipating conflict ahead, I told her of the principle of charity, to interpret every word spoken in the best possible light, to grant what good she could find, and to always argue tactics over intentions; she smiled and thanked me for helping her to get away from everyone.

Some time ago, a woman stared at me from a plastic chair across a table. We sat in a concrete room, her in an orange jumpsuit, and me in the usual suit and tie; the 4×4 table took up roughly 80% of our allotted space, with the rest adequate only for ingress and egress maneuvers. I tried what every other adult in her life has attempted, but was wholly unable to cut through the actual mental illness, the influence of her peers, whatever residual effects of drug use, and the ignorance of youth, to convince her that those people around her – the people she tells me she hates because they just want to control her and pretend like they know what’s best when she knows perfectly well what’s best – really do want to help her, and they really can help her, but only if she accepts that help. She got out of juvi and ran back to the gang whose insignia is tattooed across her back, where she trades sex for money and drugs, or is used herself as currency; but they also recognize mental illness, and where risperidone is replaced with beatings, eventually, the only solution is a permanent one.

Another solution would be forced medication with non-amphetamines, involuntary commitment, placement in a locked facility of the sort that got a bad name during a time when people seemed to acknowledge the existence of evil, and the occasional necessity for its ranking in order to settle upon the lesser of two. Today, I’m not sure what exactly we’re thinking. There are a few old mainstays when it comes to thoughts about insane asylums; the guy who thinks he’s Abraham Lincoln, the guy who thinks he’s Jesus, the guy who thinks he’s Caesar. They lived within padded walls for the very demonstrable reality that they were not, in fact, who they claimed to be. Today, we take a man who believes he’s a woman, and we give him hormones, silicone implants; we mutilate his body so that he will look like a bad caricature of the woman that he is not, has never been, and will never be. We don’t yet sew on beards, paste artificial moles, supply tophats, and house our country’s many Mr. Lincolns at the white house… but it isn’t entirely clear to me why we should change the word “delusion” to “personal reality” only in some cases and not others. And if we require that men’s bathrooms accept the short-haired, flannel-clad, woman with a chemically induced soul-patch and a silicone replica penis, why don’t we require Graceland to admit that guy down on 40th who sincerely believes himself to be Elvis? He’d certainly be more comfortable there.

But delusion doesn’t exist, remember? We’re a bit slow in maintaining consistency, although I suppose we will eventually succeed in making everyone equal. That means treating someone with a serious mental illness as if her preferences are merely preferences. It means only allowing for a voluntary commitment, a non-secure transport, and a facility from which you are free to leave at any time. It is one thing to remove gender so that sexual delusion can find itself comfortable in a nondescript stall… but it seems quite another thing to remove sanity so that all the world can be an asylum. It seems terribly obvious to look at prisons and madhouses and recidivism, to observe that this system of ours is broken in the sense that it is imperfect in its attempt to create a utopia; almost as obvious as to look at the results of closing them all down, and observe that Eden is no closer, and the world is still broken. But like the Bolsheviks who rallied for change and destruction, rightly pointing to existing flaws, we stand staring at Chesterton’s fence; we see the cracks and want to remove it, wholly unable to articulate why it was placed there to begin with.

Yet, I’m at a loss. Conservatives should be at a loss. Arthur Koestler wrote a book some time ago, called Darkness at Noon. He vividly described what happens when authority gets to exercise its own judgment and define what is and is not sane, who is and is not a danger to society. Mistake of fact is easily conflated with mistake of opinion, and the power to confine someone for his own good, or for the good of the whole, absent some actual crime… well, that is a power that we rightly treat like open flame in a powder room.

I lost a war the other day. It wasn’t one of those wars that I lost because I didn’t care or because I didn’t try. It wasn’t because I didn’t fight, or because I didn’t know how to fight or who to fight. It was because I recognize that there is evil in the world, and that those sorts of wars are ones you cannot win. You can only wait them out, and in the meantime, you can find which of the little girls and boys are willing to listen; you can pull them out of the melee for a minute and take a walk. You can impart what small amount of wisdom you have, and hope that it sticks in the back of their heads, so that it may someday give them the perspective they need as they look at all these fights that wage around them.

[Disclaimer: The characters in this story are fictional; based on real ideas and real experiences, but not upon actual facts.]

Members have made 36 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Foxfier Member

    I’m sorry.

    Our state is insane on insanity.

    • #1
    • June 19, 2014 at 6:12 am
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  2. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member

    Foxfier:

    I’m sorry.

    Our state is insane on insanity.

    You have no idea how true that statement is. 

    • #2
    • June 19, 2014 at 6:21 am
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  3. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    When I was 16 years old I was sent to Napa State Hospital in CA to determine my mental illness, because I kept running away from the children’s homes and foster homes in which I was placed. The abuse by the adult attendants towards the children was unreal, especially those with Downs Syndrome. After about 6 weeks the psychiatrist a Dr. McGrath, determined my problem was and had been lack of TLC. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to escape the place. I had a good sense of direction, and made my way across the hills to Child’s Valley near St Helena, and spent the next 3 months working on the Bar-49, helping the ranch foreman. I always found a job, always worked, never was involved with sex or drugs. Someone finely thought of where I would go, and collected me. However, within a month or so I was in San Francisco, working again, in a beautiful home, wonderful parents, beautiful kids, as a “nanny.” Of course, I lied about my name, age, where I was from. My 17th birthday pasted without note.

    • #3
    • June 19, 2014 at 7:54 am
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  4. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    Kay of MT, I am so sorry you went through all that.

    • #4
    • June 19, 2014 at 8:20 am
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  5. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    MarciN:

    Kay of MT, I am so sorry you went through all that.

     Thank you MarciN, that is all behind me now, and I learned to be self relent, and not depend on others. A lot of good lessens learned, also who your friends were. There were people even then who recognized how badly the foster homes and children’s homes were operated. In the 1950s, when a child ran away they were considered a “delinquent” and put in Juvenile Hall. Once you were released you were assigned a Probation Officer, and one of the best was a Mrs. Hawkins. She did her best, as a member of the court, but the social services always intervened. One home I loved, in Nevada City, but a social worker came to get me 3 weeks before the end of the school year, because, “someone determined I was out of Sacramento County” and had to be returned now, not wait a few weeks to the end of the school year. I had been there since January. I vanished out the front bedroom window into the forest, stayed until Mrs. Stapleton left , then returned to my foster mother.
    Con’t

    • #5
    • June 19, 2014 at 8:46 am
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  6. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    Con’t from #5

    My foster parents, Marvel and Bert Reynolds, did not notify SocServices I had returned, let me finish the school year, which I did with good grades. They arranged for me to work the summer as a camp counselor at the Bar-49 Ranch, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Simmons at that time. I remained in contact with Marvel until my children were in their teens. A truly wonderful person. My children loved her as well. 

    When I ended up at the ranch again, after Napa, later that fall, Mr. Simmons let me stay and work with the ranch foreman, knowing I would work and not cause trouble. He didn’t notify the authorities either. The plan was for me to work the winter, and be available to supervise the incoming camp counselors in the spring and summer. However, again, outside influence, squelched the plan. Sometimes RyanM, the kids actually have a better grip on what is best for them than the clueless adults in their life. My love was horses, kids, and that ranch, not drugs or sex. However, most adults “assume” a kid labeled “delinquent” it must be because he/she is doing wicked things.

    • #6
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:07 am
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  7. Profile photo of Salvatore Padula Member

    Ryan M: It was the sort of argument that you lose simply because the law wasn’t on your side.

    Those are the sort of losses I prefer. Conversely, winning an argument when the law is squarely against me is just about the most satisfying win I’ve experienced.

    I once had a brief conversation with John Roberts at a cocktail reception. He told me his proudest achievement as a lawyer was that he once won a case in front of the Supreme Court with a unanimous opinion. The next term, the Court was presented with a case resting on the same question of law and reversed itself, also unanimously. Roberts confided that he thought the Court was mistaken when it ruled in his favor. He concluded that his advocacy had overcome the inconvenient fact that he didn’t have a legal leg to stand on.

    I’ve nothing to say about the substance of your essay aside from that it was a compelling read. I’d comment on more of your stuff if I could find something to disagree with.

    • #7
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:32 am
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  8. Profile photo of Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The Post author

    Kay of MT: One home I loved, in Nevada City, but a social worker came to get me 3 weeks before the end of the school year, because, “someone determined I was out of Sacramento County” and had to be returned now, not wait a few weeks to the end of the school year.

     oh, you’re telling me! one of my little girls is looking at a potential “return home” to a whole different state, after doing very well in a foster home for several years (who is willing to take her permanently). Home, in that instance, is a Dad who found out he was the dad only 2 years ago. Mom had cheated while married, and guy on the birth certificate was out of the picture. So moving in with a perfect stranger in a new state is somehow the better option because he is “family.” But the state knows best. Not the social worker – this isn’t what she wants to do – but the people at the top, who have never met anyone involved but who hand down judgments from a desk in Olympia.

    • #8
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:34 am
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  9. Profile photo of Salvatore Padula Member

    Ryan M: Home, in that instance, is a Dad who found out he was the dad only 2 years ago. Mom had cheated while married, and guy on the birth certificate was out of the picture. So moving in with a perfect stranger in a new state is somehow the better option because he is “family.”

     Ryan, yet again, you clearly are neglecting to recognize the overriding centrality of the biological bond in family stability and health. Such a blindness to natural reality is just another Bolshevik nail in the coffin of the traditional family and another step down the slippery slope to transgender polygamist baby-selling anarcho-slavery.

    • #9
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:39 am
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  10. Profile photo of Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The Post author

    Kay of MT: Sometimes RyanM, the kids actually have a better grip on what is best for them than the clueless adults in their life.

     I represent those kids, and I sometimes agree. Sometimes not, though. They are still kids, who would vote themselves cookies for dinner, no school, etc… just as often as they call with legitimate concerns, they call to ask why they can’t have a car. I think the innocence and nobility of youth is a giant myth (as stated by CS Lewis).

    I left out the bad parts of the second story. This girl actually ran from a loving home. Her mother is in a mental hospital, and she inherited much of the same. Her drug use and prostitution only scratch the surface. But your contrasting story really does prove my point regarding why this is such a complicated issue! There is no easy solution, and any system will result in harm. That’s why we recognize that harm is inevitable; evil exists in the world. We do what we can, but we should not have unrealistic expectations.

    • #10
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:43 am
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  11. Profile photo of Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The Post author

    p.s. I am not advocating that this girl be placed in a mental institution. I was drawing a connection, though… because any sort of locked facility is simply out of the question. There are plenty of solutions that could arise, especially in a free market, if we didn’t make such blanket prohibitions. She should be physically held somewhere, yes, against her will. And she is young enough that it could make a huge difference in her life. But this is the hypocrisy of the liberals. The 2nd client is old enough to choose the gang, but the first client isn’t even allowed to chose her state. Because these rules aren’t determined on an individual level; they are planned centrally by a bunch of liberal bureaucrats who feel so confident in their own intelligence that every solution is “one size fits all.”

    • #11
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:47 am
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  12. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    I can’t seem to find any words. I am so sorry, Kay. All I can say is that your life was a triumph, not a tragedy.

    I had a very unusual childhood too, and I can vouch for the fact that the kids in real trouble sometimes are far more practical than everyone around them.

    I grew up in a John Updike, upper-middle-class town, and I would say that my friends in in-tact families were in very deep trouble very young. They were way worse off than I was. Drugs, sex, alcohol, mental illness–wow. I couldn’t afford to create more problems for myself. My goal was to grow up and get out in one piece and make a decent life for myself.

    All of which is why it is nice to think of Ryan helping teenagers. I’ve not known people like him–people who were practical, intelligent, learned and street smart at the same time–who are working with teenagers. Not to embarrass him, and if I am, I apologize, but if ever God were at work on this earth to help people, it’s through Ryan. I wish we could clone him.

    • #12
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:50 am
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  13. Profile photo of Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The Post author

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ryan M: Home, in that instance, is a Dad who found out he was the dad only 2 years ago. Mom had cheated while married, and guy on the birth certificate was out of the picture. So moving in with a perfect stranger in a new state is somehow the better option because he is “family.”

    Ryan, yet again, you clearly are neglecting to recognize the overriding centrality of the biological bond in family stability and health. Such a blindness to natural reality is just another Bolshevik nail in the coffin of the traditional family and another step down the slippery slope to transgender polygamist baby-selling anarcho-slavery.

     hah – I’m one step away from saying “a family is any collection of two or more people who love each other!”

    Of course, from a religious perspective, I suppose I do believe in an ultimate truth that applies to all. But there is one institution that I don’t trust to impose that or any other ideal on anyone, which is why I’m a socially conservative libertarian. The only correct political philosophy, I’ve found. 😉

    • #13
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:57 am
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  14. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    Postscript to my earlier comment:

    As a mom with three kids of my own, I ended up working with kids all the time as a volunteer–church, scouts, sports, and music, lots of music programs. I’ve been with a lot of kids in very trying circumstances.

    And my message to all kids is always the same: This too shall pass. You’re living through 18 years out of 90. Childhood is an obstacle course you just have to get through. What you don’t want to do is make any dumb mistakes that will hound you when you finally get free of it. Hang in there.

    • #14
    • June 19, 2014 at 10:09 am
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  15. Profile photo of Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The Post author

    @ Marci – that’s not embarrassing, it is merely untrue! Most of the people who know me well would shudder at the thought of clones. Of course, I’ve tried twice. We’ll see how they turn out. 🙂

    • #15
    • June 19, 2014 at 10:11 am
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  16. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    MarciN: My goal was to grow up and get out in one piece and make a decent life for myself.

     My goal was the same, and not to make more trouble for myself.

    One of my aunts was an alcoholic with a daughter. My cousin’s home life was very bad with her mother bringing home men, multiple marriages. One of her step-fathers sexually abused her, and apparently she never told anyone, but she went the drugs, alcohol, sex route in San Francisco. I was extremely fortunate, and counted my blessings, and was never sexually abused. A psychiatrist once told me, may not be true, that my being “incorrigible” and a “scrappy fighter” probably saved me. I had an overly high opinion of fair play, and would attack just about anyone who violated it. I was known for attacking foster parents and orderlies for abusing children. I spent so much time in Juvie as a kid, that when I went to work for the Sylmar Juvenile facility in 1965 I felt someone had made a mistake in giving me the key.

    • #16
    • June 19, 2014 at 10:47 am
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  17. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    There is a phenomenon that I read about years ago called “the survivor.” I think I am one of them. I think Kay is too.

    No one knows why. All things would point to these kids being in deep trouble, but somehow they make it.

    Maybe God gets some of us in and out of these nightmares in one piece so a few of us can get to the other side and communicate with the people trying to help the kids who can’t speak for themselves believably. I don’t know.

    • #17
    • June 19, 2014 at 11:00 am
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  18. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    MarciN: There is a phenomenon that I read about years ago called “the survivor.” I think I am one of them. I think Kay is too.

     I remember reading something about that some time ago. Will need to look it up and go over it again. I also have spent a great deal of time working with children, volunteering, 4-H, etc.

    Today, the same cousin who went the Height-Ashbury route, finally cleaned up her act, and now has her PhD in Psychology. She is a flaming far left liberal, practically worships Obama, nothing was ever her fault, her income is low from her poor choices, and she has never forgiven her mother, even in death. Her education didn’t teach her much about survival.

    • #18
    • June 19, 2014 at 11:40 am
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  19. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    RyanM, your article is absolutely superb, meant to mention that at the first but got caught up in my story of a kid trying to survive. There is so much of it I could comment on, in agreement with you, but it would turn into another long article. I so much appreciate your articles in working with the children.

    • #19
    • June 19, 2014 at 11:48 am
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  20. Profile photo of Mike H Thatcher

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ryan M: Home, in that instance, is a Dad who found out he was the dad only 2 years ago. Mom had cheated while married, and guy on the birth certificate was out of the picture. So moving in with a perfect stranger in a new state is somehow the better option because he is “family.”

    Ryan, yet again, you clearly are neglecting to recognize the overriding centrality of the biological bond in family stability and health. Such a blindness to natural reality is just another Bolshevik nail in the coffin of the traditional family and another step down the slippery slope to transgender polygamist baby-selling anarcho-slavery.

     Sal, that was a million times better than anything I had rattling around my head when I read that.

    • #20
    • June 19, 2014 at 11:55 am
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  21. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member

    Because these rules aren’t determined on an individual level; they are planned centrally by a bunch of liberal bureaucrats who feel so confident in their own intelligence that every solution is “one size fits all.”

    The state has a very dehumanizing effect on the citizenry when the two must interract. It is not a very pleasant experience to be handled by an inhuman bureaucracy.

    • #21
    • June 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm
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  22. Profile photo of EThompson Inactive

    MarciN:

    Kay of MT, I am so sorry you went through all that.

    I am as well and for what it’s worth, I always look forward to your remarks because they strike me as most sensible.

    @Ryan: You have one of the most difficult jobs on the planet and if I were a religious person (which we all know I’m not thanks to Dime), I’d be inclined to say “God Bless You.”

    • #22
    • June 19, 2014 at 1:28 pm
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  23. Profile photo of captainpower Member

    1) Ryan,

    Thanks for sharing these stories from the trenches.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    2) Kay, Marci.

    Would love to see a post about “the survivor.” If you’ve already posted on similar, please direct me and I will check it out. Ricochet is kind of hard to search.

    • #23
    • June 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm
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  24. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    captainpower:

    2) Kay, Marci.

    Would love to see a post about “the survivor.” If you’ve already posted on similar, please direct me and I will check it out. Ricochet is kind of hard to search.

     Cap’n its even hard for us to find our own posts. I have posted a few things in the “comments” sections but haven’t written a full post regarding my situation. I did write about being put into the orphanage and some of the abuse, and it made 10 Cents cry, so I didn’t write any more. I’ll consider writing a OP, and it may or may not apply to current situations as I was born in the 1930s, went through the great depression and WWII. My parents were in their teens in the crash of 1929, My great grandparents were Civil War survivors of GA, with as many of their family members killed as some Jewish families lost in the Shoah. All of these situations combined to make me who I am. It’s in my DNA to survive, as one of my ancestors survived the Jamestown Colony, another the Battle of Culloden, and eight of them the Revolutionary War.

    • #24
    • June 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm
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  25. Profile photo of captainpower Member

    Kay of MT: I’ll consider writing a OP, and it may or may not apply to current situations as I was born in the 1930s

    I’m a fan of history because it’s often still relevant even though sitauations have changed somewhat.

    For example, on my todo list of figuring out is, how did we get the moon without a Department of Education? How has our education improved/devolved over time as a nation, and why.

    I’ve heard California Governor Ronald Reagan criticized for shutting down mental hospitals, but am not sure how accurate that was. Apparently, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” had something to do with swaying public opinion, even though it was a pretty biased piece. Also, apparently Electroshock Therapy has been found to be a useful treatment after all (although they use anesthesia now).

    Personal experiences can contain a wealth of knowledge, so I welcome any sharing you’d care to do. And, of course, posts are more visible than comments. (And easier to find too, since Ricochet 2.0 profile pages only show the most recent 10 comments by a user).

    • #25
    • June 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm
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  26. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    captainpower: For example, on my todo list of figuring out is, how did we get the moon without a Department of Education?

     Did you mean “how did we get to the moon?”
    That one is easy, we were in a dead heat against Russia to get there first and claim it as our own. Same with the Atomic bomb, race against Germany, afraid they’d get it first and wipe us off the map. Fear is a great motivator, unfortunately our current piece of slime dirtying up the WH, has no fear of Islam, he’d just as soon let them take over. He has plenty of money and is safe from them.

    The Dept of Ed was pitiful even then, you should read what Richard Feynman had to say about them when he was on the State of California’s Curriculum Commission. He told the State the books were crap and the State bought them anyway. That was in 1964.

    http://www.textbookleague.org/103feyn.htm

    Wonder what he would say about Common Core.

    • #26
    • June 19, 2014 at 3:08 pm
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  27. Profile photo of captainpower Member

    I knew that we got a fire lit under us by Sputnik, but how did it work from a decentralized standpoint is what I am wondering.

    Apparently, centralized standards weren’t necessary. Did ever state figure it out on its own, or did we have regional/national collaboration between the states, or what?

    Also, did we emphasize “higher order thinking” or memorization or what?

    • #27
    • June 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm
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  28. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    captainpower: Did ever state figure it out on its own, or did we have regional/national collaboration between the states, or what? Also, did we emphasize “higher order thinking” or memorization or what?

     I have no idea. My daughters were in a Montessori school in their early years where they learned the basics. My father had taught me to read and write by age 4. One of my daughters at age 4, passed the Los Angeles School System placement test at 4th grade level. That daughter and her sons out think me every time. They take after her father.

    • #28
    • June 19, 2014 at 4:12 pm
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  29. Profile photo of Flizzo Stizzo Member

    I just hope you provide those two clones with appropriate musical training so we can listen to the “M Family Players” someday.

    • #29
    • June 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm
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  30. Profile photo of Boomerang Member

    captainpower:

    1) Ryan,

    Thanks for sharing these stories from the trenches.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    2) Kay, Marci.

    Would love to see a post about “the survivor.” If you’ve already posted on similar, please direct me and I will check it out. Ricochet is kind of hard to search.

     I second both those comments.

    • #30
    • June 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm
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