THE BLOG

I'm Tired

05/05/2014 08:39 pm ET | Updated Jul 05, 2014
  • Paul Stoller Professor of Anthropology, West Chester University; Author, Yaya's Story: The Quest for Well-Being in the World

As spring slowly unfolds into summer, I wonder if most Americans feel frustrations similar to mine. Like most people I know, I'm weary of "things as they are." To borrow from the title of Joe Louis Walker's blues song, "I'm Tide." In that tune he sings about the frustrations of contemporary life.

I'm tide of waiting on her and she's tide of waiting on me...The sky's always gray. The weather's always cold. I'm tide of paying taxes. I'm tide of paying dues. I'm tide of singing this song and I'm tide of singing the blues. I'm "T" "I" "D" "E," Tide.

Perhaps we are all "T" "I" "D" "E,' "Tide."

As for me, I'm "Tide" of the idiotic ideological gridlock in Washington, D.C. Facing the impending catastrophe of climate change, which requires drastic policy changes to save the planet, we do nothing because our politicians, who are beholden to special interests, cannot accept incontrovertible scientific findings. Like it or not, the earth is warming at an alarming rate, the result ever-increasing emissions of fossil fuels.

I'm "Tide" of the attention that the media give to feckless blowhards who champion ignorant, cruel and shameful beliefs. Many of them are elected officials who represent not the best and the brightest but the worst and the dimmest.

I'm "Tide" of people "making stuff up" to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I'm tired of all those folks who believe that the made up stuff is true. Indeed, millions of Americans appear to believe the widespread myth that if the ACA is not repealed, the government will implant microchips in their bodies, which will, in turn, enable the death panels to do their work more efficiently.

I'm "Tide" that in the name of ideological purity a nation of immigrants cannot pass immigration reform.

I'm "Tide" of rampant racism and sexism.

I'm "Tide" of an expanding income inequality that undercuts our economy.

I'm "Tide" of the celebration of ignorance and the denigration of excellence.

I'm "Tide" of zealotry, short-sightedness and anti-intellectualism.

Closer to home, I'm "Tide" of the corporate university in which there are fewer and fewer full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty. According to data compiled by John Curtis of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), between 1976 and 2011 there was a 23 percent increase in full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty. During the same time frame there was a 123 percent increase graduate student employees. Meanwhile the number of full time executives went up by 141 percent. Full-time non-tenure track faculty increased by 259 percent, part-time faculty by 286 percent and full-time non-faculty professional staff by a whopping 369 percent. These statistics led Martin Kich, who blogs for Academe, to state: "Clearly, our college and universities are no long places where the primary focus is on instruction. Instead, they are places where the primary goal is to entrench and to expand administrative bureaucracies."

Such frustration makes us tired and numb. When "you're tide of waiting on her and she's tired of waiting on you," when "the sky's always gray and the weather's always cold," it's sometimes hard to face the new day. Even if you do manage to get out, you're still "tide." Even if your eyes are open, you're still not awake.

What can be done about being "tide?" How can we push the reset button?

Perhaps you, too, are tired of the resignation of hopelessness. For me, the foundation of hope lies not business models or political platforms, but in education. The battle for the future will be fought not in military conflict but in our classrooms, where educators, our bodies braced for strong anti-intellectual headwinds, will continue to introduce younger generations to the wonders of science,social science literature and the arts -- to the power of critical thinking. If the public becomes better informed, there may be a slow evolution in our thinking, a gradual increase in respect of and support for primary, secondary and higher education. Armed with knowledge and the experience of how to exchange ideas and work collaboratively, the coming generations may be able to transform a space in which nothing seems to work into a place of innovation and invention.

It won't be easy to climb the steep path to innovation and invention, but it's well worth the effort. Our future depends upon it.