Sunday, November 06, 2011


"I will give you the benefit of the doubt" she said with very little conviction in her voice. Truth be told I probably didn't deserve the benefit of the doubt, so I merely replied thank you. Not trusting myself to say anything further without getting myself back into the trouble she was offering me a way out of. Also, I figured that keeping my mouth shut was probably for the best, it usually it, and it needs to be one of life's golden rules that I follow more often.

However undeserved that benefit was, it got me to thinking about benefits in general. There are quite a few benefits that we toss around like dwarfs at a Scottish fest, and I am pondering which of them are really important. There are the fringe benefits that those of us who have what are termed 'real' jobs have. The medical insurance, the life insurance, the paid vacation, and all the other little perks that some jobs can provide. There are friends with benefits type relationships, that I am sure many of us have been in at one time or another. These types of relationships are easy for shallow, emotionally stunted men like myself, are designed to have. The relationships that start of easy enough, but generally end in tears. While they last, and while both parties are in agreement as to what they are, they are not the worst type of relationship to be a party to.

Then we have the 'benefits of a classical education'. These types of benefits are myriad, and sometimes very difficult to quantify.  They can range from being really good at trivia competitions, to being a marvellous dinner companion that people love to sit next to at those awkward social gatherings that we, as social animals, are forced to attend in order to be normal.  The ability to carry on a conversation about a topic that does not involve your favourite sports team, is a very desired quality, especially in a man.  These benefits can also include the ability to make meaningful, positive changes in the world around you. If you are classically educated enough, and armed with the proper motivation, and the right tools you can change at least a little part of the world for the better. That is a solid benefit, and one that should not be over looked. It is this benefit that is probably the greatest benefit a classical education can offer, and one that is well worth paying for, and believe me classical education does not come cheaply.

I, perhaps without proper authority, consider myself to be classically educated. I am a fair hand at trivia contests, and if I were such an awkward sod/misanthrope, I would probably make a decent dinner conversationalist, but I am a misanthrope, so my dinner party invitations (also thin on the ground) have pretty much dried up as of late. Not that this upsets me in the least, it is just something that I am not prepared to mourn.  I certainly do not use my trumped up classical education to effect the world in any positive manner.  I am not armed with the proper motivation, nor do I generally find or receive it in/from my fellow human beings. I also lack the correct tools, or at least I haven't figured out how to use the tools I do have properly to make the world a better place. I understand this is a major failing on my part, and I at least try to hope that if I don't make the world a better place (as I should), I at least try not to make it a worse place (not sure I succeed in that endeavour).

Maybe an unintended side effect of a classical education is what is preventing me from positive change. That side effect is, in many ways, very ironic. To be classical educated is to realize that there are HUGE gaps in one's education, and to understand that one is woefully undereducated.  No one can process all the knowledge of the world, but one has can be smart enough to realize just how ignorant one actually is. It is a humbling realization, a frustrating thought, and a crushing burden all at once.  On the other hand, it while it has been a bit of a burden, it also has provided me (quite recently) with an new idea.

That idea is simplicity itself, if I am actually classical educated (which is debatable) I should, and do understand the gaps in my education, and my new found idea is to fill those gaps. They are too numerous to every fill in completely, and I am not sure I am quite certain where to start, but at least now that I have the idea I can begin try to make the holes less glaring.  I know nothing of opera, very little of the history of China, next to nothing of any foreign language, and am clueless on a wide number of other topics. At least, I now realize that these gaps are unacceptable and that has fired my desire to plug those gaps with actual knowledge not just to pass the time at my local trying to avoid stabbing douche bags in the eye, although prison might be able to provide me the isolation, and regular schedule I could use to continue my classical education, I prefer to try to do it on the outside, after all I am too pretty to go to prison.

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