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In Response to RE: Ahead of his Time by intersan
My most memorable teacher came when I went to the local community college, back in 1966, after graduating from 12 years of Catholic education.
I had to take a class in "Social Science" as it was called back then. The teacher was a short, stout, rather unattractive middle-aged man with a ruddy complexion. If I remember correctly, Mr. Bonem handed out a questionaire at our first class asking us what we expected to learn from "Soc Sci 101". I had no clue as I didn't think that society was a "science". In my senior year in high school, I had to take Sociology which, from a Catholic perspective, was aimed at teaching the importance of God in society, admiring our leaders and, especially for women, settling down to raise a family.
Mr. Bonem came from a totally different perspective, one that would have had the nuns hanging him from his heels on a cross.
He started by showing how different religions often used God to gain power and control over the people, going on to cite all the instances in the history of the world where violence and the slaughter of innocents was done in God's name to further a political cause.He proposed the idea that many wars were instigated for profits as it usually made those at the top very wealthy while those at the bottom suffered. He exposed the media for only reporting what they were being paid to tell the public. He used the sitcoms of the 50's as showing the perfect family that ate together, played together and prayed together. He talked about the working poor and racism that never seemed to exist for the Middle Class families where Mom stayed home and Dad went to work. Moreover, he showed how this was a fallacy about the "perfect America", even for the Middle Class, as people often lingered in bad marriages for the sake of the children. Religion cited divorce as the ultimate evil in society while he also spoke out for family planning.
It's interesting that he was an early proponent for a single payer health care system in America, seeing that our "only for profit" system would eventually destroy us. He spent a class telling us how he needed immediate medical care while visiting Moscow in the USSR. As an American, he received decent care with no strings attached.
In essence, he had expressed the many "objectionable" ideas that had been percolating in my mind as a teen. His objective was to make us think for ourselves, to use our individual freedom as human beings and as Americans to ask questions that were mostly considered as "heresy" or "unpatriotic" by our peers. He had us write essays which encouraged us to explore an issue with our own unique visions.
I left his class as a different person, feeling the freedom to be an individual in society rather than as part of the "collective norm".
I don't know where he is now, or if he's still alive, but I credit him with releasing me, as a young adult, to think. What he said rings so true today as we see people flocking to political and religious ideologies that try to influence us for the power and control of the few.