Listen: The National cover Perfume Genius’ “Learning” + New Tour Dates

Matt Berninger of The National

Matt Berninger of The National

Photo by Jeremy Larson

The National offer baritone and brooding textures on their rendition of Perfume Genius’ “Learning”. The cover acts as the B-side to “I Need My Girl”, the latest single from Trouble Will Find Me.

While the band’s take mostly stays true to the moving, piano-led original — a highlight off Perfume Genius’ 2010 album of the same name — Matt Berninger’s deep bellow seems to add another dimension of previously unexplored sentimentality. It’s dark, heavy, and all the resonant. Check it out below.

The National – Learning (Perfume Genius cover)

Update: The National have also announced new tour dates.

The National 2014 Tour Dates:
02/04 – Auckland, NZ @ Vector Arena
02/06 – Adelaide, AU @ Thebarton
02/07 – Sydney, AU @ Opera House Forecourt
02/08 – Sydney, AU @ Opera House Forecourt
02/09 – Melbourne, AU @ Myer Music Bowl
02/11 – Bribane, AU @ Riverstage
02/14 – Perth, AU @ Perth Festival
02/16 – Tokyo, JP @ Hostess Club Weekender
02/18 – Taipei, TW @ Hostess Club Taipei
02/20 – Manila, PH @ Hostess Club Manila
02/22 – Singapore @ Hostess Club Weekender
03/01 – Manchester, UK @ BBC Radio 6 Music Festival
03/25 – Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Auditorium
04/09 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall *
04/10 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall *
04/11 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall *
04/12 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Calvin College Covenant Fine Arts Center
04/15 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre *
04/16 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre *
04/17 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre *
04/21 – Austin, TX @ The Moody Theater at Austin City Limits Live #
04/22 – Austin, TX @ The Moody Theater at Austin City Limits Live #
04/26 – Berkley, CA @ Greek Theatre %
05/09-11 – Atlanta, GA @ Shaky Knees Festival
05/23-25 – George, WA @ Sasquatch! Music Festival
05/30 – Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound
06/01 – Mannheim, DE @ Malfeld Derby
06/02 – Munich, DE @ Zenith
06/04 – Hamburg, DE @ Stadtpark
06/05 – Berlin, DE @ Zitadelle
06/09 – Warsaw, PL @ Amiteatr
06/10 – Leipzig, DE @ Parkbuhne
06/11 – Cologne, DE @ Tanzbrunnen
06/13 – Aarhus, DK @ NorthSide Festival
07/10 – Edinburgh, UK @ Usher Hall
07/12 – London, UK @ British Summer Time Hyde Park ^
07/14 – Cork, IE @ Live at the Marquee !
07/16 – Galway, IE @ Galway Arts Festival !
07/18 – Dublin, IE @ Iveagh Gardens !
07/19 – Dublin, IE @ Iveagh Gardens
07/22 – Ferrara, IT @ Piazza Castello
07/25 – Vasto, IT @ Siren
07/26 – Lucca, IT @ Piazza Napolene
07/29 – Brescia, IT @ Anfiteatro del Vittoriale
07/31 – St. Petserburg, RU @ A2
08/01 – Moscow, RU @ Arena Moscow
08/03 – Kiev, UA @ Stereo Plaza
08/06 – Oslo, NO @ Oya Fest

* = w/ Daughter
# = w/ Warpaint
% = w/ Portugal. the Man
^ = w/ Neil Young
! = w/ PhosphorescentUpdate: The National have also announced new tour dates.

The National 2014 Tour Dates:
02/04 – Auckland, NZ @ Vector Arena
02/06 – Adelaide, AU @ Thebarton
02/07 – Sydney, AU @ Opera House Forecourt
02/08 – Sydney, AU @ Opera House Forecourt
02/09 – Melbourne, AU @ Myer Music Bowl
02/11 – Bribane, AU @ Riverstage
02/14 – Perth, AU @ Perth Festival
02/16 – Tokyo, JP @ Hostess Club Weekender
02/18 – Taipei, TW @ Hostess Club Taipei
02/20 – Manila, PH @ Hostess Club Manila
02/22 – Singapore @ Hostess Club Weekender
03/01 – Manchester, UK @ BBC Radio 6 Music Festival
03/25 – Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Auditorium
04/09 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall *
04/10 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall *
04/11 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall *
04/12 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Calvin College Covenant Fine Arts Center
04/15 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre *
04/16 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre *
04/17 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre *
04/21 – Austin, TX @ The Moody Theater at Austin City Limits Live #
04/22 – Austin, TX @ The Moody Theater at Austin City Limits Live #
04/26 – Berkley, CA @ Greek Theatre %
05/09-11 – Atlanta, GA @ Shaky Knees Festival
05/23-25 – George, WA @ Sasquatch! Music Festival
05/30 – Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound
06/01 – Mannheim, DE @ Malfeld Derby
06/02 – Munich, DE @ Zenith
06/04 – Hamburg, DE @ Stadtpark
06/05 – Berlin, DE @ Zitadelle
06/09 – Warsaw, PL @ Amiteatr
06/10 – Leipzig, DE @ Parkbuhne
06/11 – Cologne, DE @ Tanzbrunnen
06/13 – Aarhus, DK @ NorthSide Festival
07/10 – Edinburgh, UK @ Usher Hall
07/12 – London, UK @ British Summer Time Hyde Park ^
07/14 – Cork, IE @ Live at the Marquee !
07/16 – Galway, IE @ Galway Arts Festival !
07/18 – Dublin, IE @ Iveagh Gardens !
07/19 – Dublin, IE @ Iveagh Gardens
07/22 – Ferrara, IT @ Piazza Castello
07/25 – Vasto, IT @ Siren
07/26 – Lucca, IT @ Piazza Napolene
07/29 – Brescia, IT @ Anfiteatro del Vittoriale
07/31 – St. Petserburg, RU @ A2
08/01 – Moscow, RU @ Arena Moscow
08/03 – Kiev, UA @ Stereo Plaza
08/06 – Oslo, NO @ Oya Fest

* = w/ Daughter
# = w/ Warpaint
% = w/ Portugal. the Man
^ = w/ Neil Young
! = w/ Phosphorescent

9 Ways To Be More Creative – The Creativity Post

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By Dr. Jonathan Wai | Dec 01, 2013

Synopsis

Some lessons from Clive Thompson on how to be more creative.

la-ca-jc-smarter-than-you-think-20130910I recently had the opportunity to talk with the technology journalist Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think. You can read the full conversation here. From that chat, I distilled nine lessons from Clive on how we can improve our thinking, with and without technology.

1. Spend Significant Chunks of Time Offline

“I think it’s good to spend significant chunks offline. For example, I don’t check my email on weekends. This means I’m usually off social media…I’ll text a bunch because that’s social for me and how I organize social behavior. But I tend to get more reading done and my brain gets pulled in a cooler direction. And a lot of people tell me they can’t do that because their boss demands they check email all weekend. And this shows that a lot of the problems of distraction we have are not really latent in the technologies themselves, they’re latent in the power relations that emerge from those technologies.

White collar workers now probably need to have a solidarity movement that equals that because their labor is now constantly squeezed by employers who have the ability to reach them 24/7. The smart employers…recognize that it’s actually bad for the caliber of their employee’s thought to be constantly pecked at like ducks all week long. And I think Volkswagen and a few other firms have instituted this policy of turning the Blackberry servers off after a certain hour at night and on the weekends, so there’s no email coming into their employees… this has been what the unions have been espousing for a hundred years, the weekend works. It’s a civic and social good and for an employer it should be a corporate good too. Let people disconnect from your corporate demands.”

2. Engage in “Cognitive Diversity”: Do Something Mentally Different

“One of the things I talk about in my book is the need for what I playfully call cognitive diversity. If you buy the idea that the way we communicate and write, express, and form our ideas online is qualitatively different from the ways we do it offline, and that those are productively or usefully different from traditional less social thinking offline, then it’s still incredibly useful to read immersively for eight hours, go for a long walk, or just argue about something drunkenly at a bar with a friend. These things are sufficiently different from the ways we conduct ourselves online, and it will drag your mind in usefully different modes of thought.

The same type of thing of just doing something different with your body, the reason why we get ideas in the shower is because we’re not working and our bodies are doing something totally different, it’s a new stimulus environment, and the stuff we’ve been ruminating on just assembles itself in a completely different way in our subconscious…So if you’re a person that works with words all day long like I do it’s really good to do something completely nonverbal in your spare time. I’m an instrumentalist, so I’ll play guitar for half an hour at the end of the day and it’s a fabulous way to put my brain in a totally different embodied state. I often come away from it having solved some sort of problem…And it is very emotionally valuable as well, which exercises whole other parts of my personality. Everyone’s got something like that, some people like to cook, they’ll spend eight hours on Sunday doing a fantastic Indian food dish, running, playing team sports. These are all things that are connected to the quality of our overall lives and thinking. Knowing when to shift between public and private thinking—when to blast an idea online, when to let it slow bake—is a crucial new skill: cognitive diversity.”

3. Don’t Isolate Yourself: Learn Social Thinking

“Our intelligence has never been entirely just in our heads. A huge amount of our thinking is what the philosopher Andy Clark would call taking place in the extended mind, which is to say, using all sorts of resources outside of us to help scaffold our thinking in new directions and capabilities that are impossible with the mind alone. That ranges from something as simple as being able to write something down so you no longer have to hold it in your head for the short or for the long term…a huge amount of human cognition has relied on resources outsides of our heads in the same way that the basics of our memory relied very heavily on social dynamics, social remembering, or what psychologists call transactive memory.

When groups of people hang out…they are very good at retaining meaning, but we’ve relied on other people as sort of these cognitive amplifiers. So you could ask the question, are we dumber if we’re not around other people? Are we smarter if we’re near them? I think the answer is yes, we are smarter when we are around other people, we are smarter when we are around all sorts of external scaffolds for our thinking, and that’s an essential definition of being human.

One of the things my book tries to do is a huge amount of what we typically think of as intellectual work has always been very social and transactional with other people. And we’re too frequently defining intelligence and thinking as sitting and peering at a book alone for ten hours or ten years. And while that’s an undoubtedly powerful mode of thought, in the real world a huge amount of thinking happens when we’re arguing, bickering, and relying on each other and working in groups. And one of the reasons this has been denigrated is because socializing has been read as feminine—social skills and EQ. And you see this right now. All the sort of big thinkers out there complaining that social media is trivial and stupid are these middle aged male novelists, right? Jonathan Franzen, for example. They are literally saying, unless you are isolated, and remain isolated, somehow your thinking is contaminated and shallow and trivial.”

4. Find Your Passion: It Drives Memory and Creativity

“Passion is what drives memory. So we can now account for a more diverse array of information, and we can now have far more serendipitous encounters with knowledge and other people, that you probably get a net increase in creativity. But it is also true that if you want to have powerful creative leaps in the sense of going on a long walk and suddenly being hit by a bolt out of the blue, you have to deeply internalize knowledge. So it is incumbent upon the person who wants to be creative to really wrestle with the material they are thinking about. So you have to have those disconnected moments where you can think without being distracted. You also need to do more generation, such as writing about it, or writing it in front of other people. This is enormously powerful for encoding in our heads what we’re thinking about.

The distraction stuff has made things harder, but the generation stuff has gotten easier. Even arguing about things through email has powerful effects in getting things to sink into your head. If we stopped lingering over the stuff that we cared about, you could argue that we are losing some creativity, but in practice I think when people are obsessed with something they do linger over it. So really what you have is a cultural problem. I would like people to be obsessed with space exploration more, with politics more, which is the age old question of “How do we get people passionate about the things that are the big things?” That’s what you and I are trying to do. We’re constantly trying to seduce people into thinking about science by posing it in a really delightful way. You attract more flies with honey.”

5. Don’t Just Follow The “Thought Leaders” Or Elite

“I think what’s happening now with the internet is cultural elites—and I would probably include myself in that category because I’m a New York writer—are startled to discover just how diverse human interest and human passions really are. Because when you live in one of these cities on the coast, you think wow, everyone is really unified around X, Y, or Zed, because we’re writing about it. But then you discover, no, no, no, people don’t care about that at all!

For example, book scan comes along to see what books people are actually reading, and the New York Times doesn’t put together its bestseller list based on what books are actually selling, they put it together based on a handful of carefully picked bookstores in elite markets because that’s who they care about—“thought leaders” to use one of the most obnoxious phrases coined in the last ten years. Thought leaders. So it turns out the country buys a million-gazillion Christian books and a lot of self-help right? So as soon as we got information about what the average person was really doing it didn’t in any way cohere with what the people—who thought they had a lock hold on canon—thought everyone should be talking about. And the internet has a little bit of that effect. Because it makes conversation visible it startles us with the diversity of what people actually care about.

One of the things I think is really unsettling about the internet and the way it has transformed society is how little people actually care about the things we thought they should care about. This is always what freaks out cultural elites. They thought everyone cares about the same five books they read. But they go online and everyone’s talking about Twilight, their fantasy sports league, Pokemon, their Tea Party meeting, gardening, and knitting. And the elites are like, “Oh my God, why is everyone so dumb?” And by dumb they meant why isn’t everyone reading the same five books I was reading?”

6. Know When (And When Not) To Rely On “Outsourced Intelligence”

“If you automate skills that shouldn’t be automated you can degrade the quality of your performance and thought. So we have Google self-driving cars coming along. On the one hand this is great because humans are dreadful at driving. We should not be driving. We have terrible wandering minds and are too easily distracted. We are overly confident in our abilities and have a dreadful sensual appreciation for the kinetic power of a two ton object moving at sixty miles an hour. So I would way rather have a robot controlling the car. The danger of this is when you have to suddenly hand the control back to a human.

So I’m in the car and sleeping, playing a video game, or not paying attention, or reading a newspaper, and suddenly my self-driving car goes “Oh my God, something is happening that I can’t handle” and says “Here Clive, you drive.” And maybe I haven’t actually driven the car for two years now. So I’m probably going to be a disastrously bad driver. So if you hand off to a machine or an algorithm, you can lose the habit of doing that task. This is a really interesting problem and I don’t know how they’re going to get around that with self-driving cars. The statistical answer is if I am handed back the car I likely will crash it, but the overall damage rate of handing off the control of cars to robots will still be so much lower so it’s worth it overall.

So how does this analogize to cognitive tasks that aren’t so life and death? One example is with calculators and learning math. The evidence seems to show that if you give a kid a calculator too early a stage in their learning they won’t learn it quite as well because they don’t get the chance to really wrestle with those procedures internally. It’s even bad to routinize or hand over to an algorithm the act of addition with carrying. Add one number, carry it over, that’s an algorithm for adding. Studies show it prevents the kid from thinking about what the numbers mean…I see this in my kids learning, where teachers do teach the algorithm but they also teach different ways to think about the numbers… once you’ve grasped these basic math concepts, using a calculator is fine and this actually improves their ability to learn math, discover more playful combinations of numbers, and ratchet themselves ahead.”

7. Play Video Games, The Gateway Drug To New Learning

“I became aware early on, that as Dave Weinberg says “everything is miscellaneous.” Whatever it is you care about, there are more people that don’t care about it than do. Your passions are someone else’s miscellaneous stuff. So playing video games was useful in learning cultural humbleness. The second thing is they got me interested in computers. They were a gateway drug to thinking about the role of computation in people’s lives. They got me interested in programming, which gave me a glimpse into the superstructure of software. And they’ve given me an enormous amount of existential joy, which I think doesn’t get talked much about. Since video games have been under assault for so long as a waste of time, people have had trouble expressing what it is that is joyful about them. And there have finally been a bunch of intellectuals who have begun to grapple about what’s good about games—not about what they teach you or if they improve your hand-eye coordination or working memory—they are asking as a philosophical enterprise what are they good for? Why do we love them?

Regarding gaming and problem solving…I think games are a fantastic opportunity for illustrating a couple things that educators often complain they have trouble getting kids to understand. One of them is the scientific method. We talk about how if you’re confronted with a problem to generate hypotheses and do an experiment to figure out whether your hypothesis matches reality. Collect your data, refine your hypothesis, and do it over and over and over again…But it’s hard to get kids to really understand that because we give them these mock experiments to run where the results are already known…We never give them a really invisible problem and ask them to make the rule set visible. We never tell them you need to figure out whether the Higgs-boson exists. They don’t have the tools to do that. We’re bad about giving them problems with invisible rules that they are excited about uncovering. And until you can do that, they’ll never really understand what is powerful about the scientific method.”

8. Be Willing To Adapt Your Thinking Strategies

“I’m pretty optimistic about the adaptability of our thinking strategies. For example, I am a big marginalia taker in books. It’s how I make sense of a book. And you could say there’s a wonderful kinetic feeling to that and I write more slowly than I type, so am I encoding that knowledge in a better different way? And you can do these swoopy little cool connections where this part is connected to that part. And there’s this spatial memory about where it is in the pages, and that’s lost when you work digitally, right? But on the other hand, when I take notes on my Kindle, I can move a little more quickly when I’m typing so I put in a longer and more thoughtful idea, sometimes I’ll even write two paragraphs, which you can’t do in the margins in a book. And more importantly you can reencounter those notes by putting them into a database, and when I search them I can find notes that I had forgotten I had taken from a book three years ago.

Recently I’ve been Tweeting couplets from Alexander Pope’s essay on man, because he’s one of my favorite poets, in the 18th century he’s my overall favorite poet, and I read it on the Kindle. So I kept on highlighting these wonderful couplets. And so I called up the notes and I’ve been Tweeting these couplets. And there’s no way in hell I would do this with my paper book. I would literally forget it was there. I do 50% of my notation in paper and 50% in Kindle and I don’t feel there is a big difference in the quality of my thinking, only that it’s easier to encounter what I wrote in the digital format. And that reencountering is so explosive in value.”

9. Use Technologies To Amplify Your Intelligence

“I absolutely think that writing concisely and pithily is more recognized as a value now than it has in some time. We have some tools now that encourage pithiness, for example Twitter. People mocked Twitter for “what can you really say in 140 characters?” but I think what we’ve discovered is that people can say delightful things, it forces them to boil what they want to say down to the absolute nut of it, it forces them to be incredibly witty. As Shakespeare wrote, “brevity is the soul of wit.” An aphorism itself that would fit perfectly into a Tweet with room left over.”

© 2013 by Jonathan Wai

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or G+. For more of Finding the Next Einstein: Why Smart is Relative go here.

Note: This article originally appeared on Psychology Today.

How Americans Became Helpless – By Michael Michalko

THE CREATIVITY POST
Jul 25, 2012

Synopsis
America has a Culture of Learned Helplessness

WHO WAS THIS MAN? He grew up in poverty in what modern psychologists call a dysfunctional family. He was tall, gangly and foolish looking. His clothes were always too tight and small. Following are some of his life experiences:

• AGE 22, FAILED IN BUSINESS.
• AGE 23, RAN FOR STATE LEGISLATURE AND WAS DEFEATED.
• AGE 24, FAILED AGAIN IN BUSINESS.
• AGE 25, ELECTED TO LEGISLATURE.
• AGE 26, REJECTED BY THE WOMAN HE LOVED.
• AGE 27, HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.
• AGE 29, DEFEATED FOR SPEAKER.
• AGE 32, DEFEATED FOR ELECTOR.
• AGE 33, MARRIED A WOMAN WHO WAS FOUND TO BE MENTALLY UNSTABLE.
• AGE 34, DEFEATED FOR CONGRESS.
• AGE 37, ELECTED TO CONGRESS.
• AGE 39, DEFEATED FOR CONGRESS.
• AGE 46, DEFEATED FOR SENATE.
• AGE 47, DEFEATED FOR VICE PRESIDENT.
• AGE 49, DEFEATED FOR SENATE.

ANSWER: The man was Abraham Lincoln and at age 52 he became President of the United States. Lincoln did not choose his experiences of failure and defeat, but he did choose how to respond. He realized that he was not reacting to an event but to how he interpreted the event. His life is testimony to the uniquely human potential to turn defeats into triumphs and to turn ones predicament into a human achievement. For those events that were not up to him it was his own attitude that determined their influence on him. When he was no longer able to change a situation, he changed himself. Lincoln’s attitude was characterized as the “American Spirit.”

Lincoln was not born with a positive “can do” attitude. On the contrary, his life is testimony that a positive attitude toward ones experiences takes considerable effort. The path of least resistance is always not to try and give up. Lincoln learned to expect difficulties, and, so was not traumatized and defeated when faced with problems but viewed them as part of the natural course of events. Lincoln learned the harder one works to sustain a positive interpretation, the more one appreciates life.

Sidney Weinberg is another example of the American spirit. He was born in 1891, one of eleven children of Pincus Weinberg, a struggling Polish-born liquor wholesaler and bootlegger in Brooklyn. Sidney was short, a “Kewpie doll,” as the New Yorker writer E. J. Kahn, Jr., described him, “in constant danger of being swallowed whole by executive-size chairs.” He pronounced his name “Wine-boig.” He left school at fifteen. He had scars on his back from knife fights in his preteen days, when he sold evening newspapers at the Hamilton Avenue terminus of the Manhattan-Brooklyn ferry.

At sixteen, he made a visit to Wall Street, keeping an eye out for a “nice-looking, tall building,” as he later recalled. He picked 43 Exchange Place, where he started at the top floor and worked his way down, asking at every office, “Want a boy?” By the end of the day, he had reached the third-floor offices of a small brokerage house. There were no openings. He returned to the brokerage house the next morning. He lied that he was told to come back, and bluffed himself into a job assisting the janitor, for three dollars a week. The small brokerage house was Goldman Sachs.
From that point, Charles Ellis tells us in his book, “The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs,” Weinberg’s rise was inexorable. Early on, he was asked to carry a flagpole on the trolley uptown to the Sachs family’s town house. The door was opened by Paul Sachs, the grandson of the firm’s founder, and Sachs took a shine to him. Weinberg was soon promoted to the mailroom, which he promptly reorganized. Sachs sent him to Browne’s Business College, in Brooklyn, to learn penmanship. By 1925, the firm had bought him a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. By 1927, he had made partner. By 1930, he was a senior partner, and for the next thirty-nine years-until his death, in 1969-Weinberg was Goldman Sachs, turning it from a floundering, mid-tier partnership into the premier investment bank in the world.

The rags-to-riches story-that staple of American biography-has over the years been given two very different interpretations. The nineteenth-century version stressed the value of compensating for disadvantage. If you wanted to end up on top, the thinking went, it was better to start at the bottom, because it was there that you learned the discipline and motivation essential for success. “New York merchants preferred to hire boys who lived in poverty, on the theory that they worked harder, and were more resolute, obedient, honest, grateful, loyal, and cheerful than middle class boys,” Irvin G. Wyllie wrote in his 1954 study “The Self-Made Man in America.” Andrew Carnegie, whose personal history was the defining self-made-man narrative of the nineteenth century, insisted that there was an advantage to being “cradled, nursed and reared in the stimulating school of poverty.” Carnegie believed that poverty forces you to confront adversity and you soon learn how to embrace and overcome it. It is by overcoming adversity that your character becomes strong and your life becomes meaningful.

The character of Lincoln and Weinberg were not exceptions. Once upon a time in America character, integrity, hard work, and independence were the norm. Americans took pride in overcoming adversity and learning from it. They were strong individuals and supremely confident. Americans believed that all one was entitled to was a natural birth. Everything else was up to the person. This was “The American Dream.” Thomas Jefferson summarized it this way: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; however, nothing on earth can help the man with wrong mental attitude.”

Today, the American Dream has been shattered. After World War II, intellectuals proselytized “inevitability theories” about how everyone’s life was shaped by genetic or environmental factors that were beyond their control. There began a promiscuity of the teaching of helplessness and the “can do” American spirit was replaced by the “we are all helpless victims” spirit. If your destiny is already predetermined by internal and external factors that you cannot change, why work hard and try to persevere and succeed? Our helplessness is learned.

A classic example of learned helplessness is from the motion picture “Freedom Writers,” which is a movie about a young teacher who tries to inspire students who have learned to be helpless. The students allowed their ethnicity, their economic status, and their social environment to determine the fate of their success. Often, members of the same social environment think in similar patterns, drawing the same inferences and or conclusion.

Many politicians, community organizers, community leaders and spokespeople for minorities preach the concept of helplessness and continually reinforce it in their campaigns, speeches, and social actions. Your adversity was caused by other groups, government, other political parties, banks, corporations, other religions, the other sex, the wealthy, or something in history that happened hundreds of years ago. The message is one of entitlement. If you are not able to provide, it is not your fault. You are entitled to financial, housing, food, education, and employment assistance from society. Society is responsible for your well being, not you.

The emphasis is not on the individual learning how to overcome adversity; the emphasis is on how to use adversity to gain socioeconomic entitlements from government. The more adversity one can claim they face, the more benefits that person will receive. For example, the more children a single unemployed mother has the more financial rewards she receives. The larger a welfare family becomes, the more benefits the family receives. Government has made it more attractive to for people to default for government assistance when faced with adversity rather than overcoming it as our ancestors did.

We now elect politicians based on the entitlements and bounties they generously offer with tax dollars. The helpless have become dependent upon the politicians for entitlements, and the politicians have become dependent upon the helpless for votes. Illegal immigrants are now gaining socioeconomic benefits and civil rights for their potential votes. In fact, many politicians were the teachers and promoters of helplessness as community organizers, counselors, and lawyers before they were elected. Other politicians come from the public sector where they promoted the same agenda.

When you listen to the campaign promises of politicians, you will hear them tell you about the benefits and rewards voters will receive from them if they are elected. In addition, they will tell you about the entitlements their challengers will take away from citizens if they are not. Political campaigns are now all about who can give the helpless the most. We no longer ask “What can we do for our government?”as JFK suggested when the American dream was strong and we reached for the stars. Now we stand in the mud and ask “What can our government do for us.”
…………………………………….
Michael Michalko is the author of the highly acclaimed Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius; ThinkPak: A Brainstorming Card Deck and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work. http://creativethinking.net/

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