E to the 4th

A Virtual Book Club

 

 Workbook Excerpt

E4  Why Can't Johnny Read?

 

“Why can’t Johnny read?” Educators and legislators have failed to definitively answer or address this problem in American society. If Johnny can’t read, then Johnny can't think critically in his pursuit of spiritual and temporal enlightenment. Ignorance is a "B", in the sense that it is a "burden" circumventing one from doing things more efficiently and intelligently in one's life! An individual or identity group that can not read can not learn anything from books! The profound lessons of human history, science, literature, religion, philosophy, etc. will ever remain “mysteries” or “non-existent” to those who either can not or do not read! In fact, Human History has taught us that men such as Socrates, Christ, Galileo, Gandhi, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr. etc., who tried to enlighten their contemporaries, were often met with opposition and even death! As a component of the perennial football game between good and evil, "The Truth" is often blocked, clipped, tackled, and even run out of bounds! However, E4 contends that those who valiantly run plays on God's team will continue to get back up and press toward the end zone in this life-long game! One can not discern the truth without being able to read. In our Nation, how can one who does not read experience reasoning? How can one who does not reason experience critical thinking? How can one who does not think critically experience enlightenment? When in human history has an illiterate person explained the laws of physics, discovered cures for diseases, invented vehicles capable of carrying tremendous cargoes, or even understood God’s commandments as recorded in the Scriptures? Albeit theoretically possible, a positive response to these philosophical questions is not probable. What is virtually certain is that he who can not read will fallaciously perceive reality and truth based more upon television than upon the totality of human knowledge. Ergo, E4’s position is that one must learn to read, and do so regularly, if one ever expects to become enlightened in things both spiritual and temporal. America’s Youths, all too often, of their own volition are "closing their minds" to such enlightenment regarding human knowledge. If such a trend continues, then future generations of Americans, by default, would be incapable of thinking! As such, neither Big Brother nor His “Thought Police” would need to force society to stop thinking because its constituents would be incapable of doing so! 

During slavery in the United States, it was unlawful for Negroes to learn to read or write. As such, the minds of slaves were forcibly closed to erudition of any kind. Yet, some undaunted slaves still learned to read and write, while an exiguous number of Negroes even published their poetry and novels! In many such cases, these Black writers were both educated and encouraged by White sympathizers or Abolitionists who felt a sense of moral duty to do so. After the Civil War many schools, which are still in existence today, were established to educate an entire race of people. This is a quintessential example of E4's concept of "changing the world in which you live"! We Americans can solve our Nation's social issues when we have the resolve to do so! One's moral convictions can empower one to achieve extraordinary results, benefiting an entire Nation. Even in the face of adversity, if one believes it, then one can achieve it! Does such achievement, however, come from a government agency on a silver platter? Or does one need to use the rod in one's own hand to part the Red Sea? For example, in contrast to the plight of African slaves in the United States, Jews were once an enslaved People in Africa. The Torah and the Bible both chronicle God's deliverance of His Chosen People from slavery, as Moses lead them to the Promised Land. Jews arriving in America from Europe were also discriminated against and marginalized a century ago by anti-Semitism. Yet, today many Jews are among our Nation's wealthiest citizens, not only in terms of pecuniary assets, but also in terms of intellectual and spiritual wealth! Perhaps, no other identity group in America has inculcated such wealth to their progeny as have the Jews! As a prototype of "taking care of one's own", what can African descendants and other minority groups learn from a self-affirming and resplendent Jewish history? Explain.

Currently, there are indeed countless African Americans in the United States who are still illiterate. However, this desuetude of Black intellectualism is no longer a reflection of any legal sanctions against their learning to read and write! Fifty years after the Supreme Court's historic ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, Bill Cosby addressed this issue, to the chagrin of many African Americans. Was not Dr. Cosby telling the truth? Explain. Today, perhaps well over a million American adults from various identity groups are functionally illiterate by choice! Among them are many Blacks, Hispanics, Indigenous Americans and Whites who, to some degree, are marginalized via this choice of illiteracy. Many highly skilled careers requiring post-secondary education are inaccessible to those who never complete high school. Thus, why are so many of America’s Youths simply dropping out of high school without bothering to even complete their GED in order to pursue these careers? Please explain this epidemic, wherein so many of America's Youths from poor, middle class, and even some wealthy families relinquish hope in themselves and in their futures as productive and well-educated citizens. Without discounting the fact that there is no such "level playing field", E4 still asks why so many students walk off the football field during the middle of the game? Are we to blame alcohol, drugs, television, video games, pop music, poor parenting, poor schools, immorality, etc.? What are the toxins in our culture that precipitate this intellectual desuetude among America's Youths,  affecting the I.Q. of an entire Nation? Explain.

He who chooses not to read invariably will at some point fail in school. He who fails in school invariably will also fail to self-actualize his or her potential in adulthood. Such an individual, regardless of his or her identity group, has obviously forfeited an opportunity to become an accountant, doctor, lawyer, college professor, etc. Thus, such an individual has consented not only to being uneducated, but also to being underemployed as well. Like a child, such a teenager or adult may ultimately rely upon others to read their books, letters in the mail, banking information, legally binding contracts, important instructions on medicines and other consumer products, etc. Needless to say, someone else must also compose any written communiqué they may need. Such a dependence upon others can certainly have a deleterious impact upon anyone’s self-esteem and sense of self worth. Antithetically, self reliance provides a sense of independence as it augments one's self worth and positive self-esteem. Ultimately, low self-esteem can manifest itself in self- destructive and anti-social behaviors. America’s prisons, for the most part, are full of people who have forfeited a good education and the wherewithal to make better physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual choices in adulthood! Even among those who are not incarcerated, one could argue the correlation between anti-social behavior and low self-esteem. As we often discuss the process of self actualization, E4 believes, inconsequential to one's heredity or environment, acquisition of both a solid intellectual and religious education are indispensable! E4 implores America's Youths to do so with deliberate speed because adult responsibilities will soon fall upon your shoulders! Thus, your failure to do so may become a virtual guarantee of your failure in life, as you become a modern day slave! 

In an “Information Age” such as ours, an underlying assumption is that our citizenry can cogitate written information and intelligently respond accordingly. Lamentably, this assumption of well developed thinking skills is not true for too many Americans. A century ago, many Americans could not “afford” to attend school for twelve years via the economic necessity for many children to work in factories or in fields to help support their families. Today, that is not the case. Ergo, it can not be overstated how important it is for both influential individuals and institutions to insist upon the education of America’s Youths! Each one of you is also "influential" among your peers at school or in your neighborhood. Challenge them to visit our website or to join your quest for spiritual and intellectual excellence! In spite of millions of Americans living in poverty, we are not a Third World country. A free public education is accessible to those who choose to simply pursue it. Indeed, many immigrants from the Third World often do capitalize upon the virtually limitless educational opportunities in America. Ergo, they become extremely successful as a result of their hard work. If one plants the seed, then one can expect to harvest the fruit! Thus, we have no legitimate excuse for such a high percentage of Americans today still being ignorant or illiterate! Even many public schools and libraries offer free or affordable reading courses for adults who choose to manumit themselves from the “slavery” of ignorance. Toward building a better America, we must collectively complement the needs of other citizens instead of selfishly competing for the elusive golden fleece. Each of us can become a better human being, were we simply to become teachers and mentors for those youths who are at risk or less fortunate. As good citizens, can not each of us identify someone within our community who needs to learn to read and assist them in that pursuit? Many public libraries with literacy programs are, in fact, seeking more volunteers (i.e. high school or college students, working adults, retirees, etc.) to help Johnny learn to read! Please contact your local library and make a difference in someone’s life by teaching him or her to read! Let us learn to love as we love to learn! Both E4 and Johnny thank you! Once Johnny becomes literate, he can then proclaim, "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I'm free at last!"

 

Workbook Excerpt

 E4 A Simple Lesson in Shapes

 

When you were a small child, simple shapes were used to stimulate your thinking. Parents, educators and even sociologists still recognize the importance of cognitive distinctions among shapes, colors, distances, etc. Acquiring such knowledge helps children learn some perceptual truths about the world in which they live. In a similar fashion, E4 believes that this exercise will also challenge your thinking regarding perceptual truths in your world. However, rather than attempting to teach you to cognitively differentiate among a circle, rectangle and triangle, our mission is a bit more abstract. Our challenge is that your discernment of healthy and unhealthy relationships increases. With respect to these four examples, each represents a construct, which circumscribes various positions or relationships among the shapes. Abstractly, the shapes could represent the relationships among good, evil, and one's personal lifestyle. More concretely, however, these shapes could represent employees within a company, companies within an industry, or countless other institutions. This exercise's visual construct could easily represent the relationships among several nations. One could also use this analysis in describing the folkways of members of your family, classmates at your school, members of civic organizations in your community, or countless other identity groups.

Identity groups represent people who share something in common. However, one must reconcile the existence of other individuals and institutions belonging to other identity groups as well. Are any such identity groups divinely created as "superior" or even "inferior" to the others? Anthropomorphically, why would God bestow intellectual genius upon members of each of E4's four ethnic identity groups, were any three inferior to any one of them? Explain. Do people with a vested interest in the "appearance of superiority" implement social constructs, i.e. unequal public education, slavery, the Holocaust, Apartheid, Euro-centric colonialism, imperialism, etc., which marginalize those considered "inferior"? Explain. Quite obviously, as Willie Lynch predicted, mental slavery can persist for centuries after the physical slavery of a people has ended. Throughout human history, certain identity groups have indeed sought to dominate or even decimate others via military and political power! To an extent, Europeans came to these shores in search of freedom from tyranny. American history is replete with countless examples of emigrants fleeing oppression and even annihilation elsewhere in the world. These immigrants often considered life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the United States to be sacrosanct. So do we. Indeed, monarchs, communists, socialists, republicans, and even "democratic presidents" have all mistreated, maligned, and even murdered members of certain identity groups under their authority with impunity! Therefore, E4 contends that the nature of ungodly men and their unjust laws, not any particular form of government, are responsible for man's inhumanity to man! Egregious government institutions, including those in the United States, will continue to rationalize their mistreatment of others, albeit their premises for doing so are fallacious and morally unjustifiable. Is it, thus, hypocritical for the United States to pontificate on an international stage about our protecting human rights abroad when we egregiously violate those rights, both at home and abroad? Explain. Although many Americans attempt to excise America's violations of human rights from any such discussion or analysis of our history, herein, E4 attempts to examine such a query. "We the People of the United States" can no more rectify our Nation's ethical "baggage" via reticence than a drug addict can recover from his addiction via denial of its existence. God has given Homo sapiens the requisite intelligence to advance science, medicine, technology, warfare, etc. Philosophically, can not governments also apply godly wisdom and intelligence toward advancements in health care, human rights, and global peace instead of toward warfare? Is this the philosophy of the United States? Explain.

Thus, in the context of E4’s identity groups, write an enlightening essay describing the relationships that the smaller shapes have with the rectangle and vice versa. First, choose either E4’s unique ethical identity groups or ethnic identity groups for your discussion. Among those identity groups selected, ascribe a specific shape to three of them. To further stimulate your thinking, introduce a fourth shape and create a relationship to the other three that is also consistent with the premise of your essay. Next, choose the set of relationships that, in your opinion, best describes American society as it currently exists. Explain. Finally, select the set of relationships that you feel proffers a more holistic model for American society than currently exists. Explain. If you feel that the sets of relationships shown below are either irrelevant or inadequate, then create your own model relationships that support the premise of your argument. Explain.

 

 

                                                           This rectangle embraces the triangle,                                                              while almost totally excluding the circle.

 

 

 

 

 

This rectangle not only dominates both the triangle and the circle, it also marginalizes them, circumventing their potential for self-actualization.

 

 

 

This rectangle dominates neither the triangle nor the circle. Although it is the dominant shape, it has made compromises with both of the others in a more equitable model for co-existence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rectangle, circle, and triangle are all segregated, coexisting beside one another as disparate and mutually exclusive entities.

 

 

Workbook Excerpt

NOTE: E4 considers most of the visual media in America toxic to spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. Ergo, we create our own! Using only their video cameras and their imagination, here are several examples of profound life lessons members are challenged to capture in only fifteen minutes of footage, as amateur directors and actors!

 

VIDEO CONTEST:

Picture a high school student sitting in the office of his or her guidance counselor. The student is planning his or her academic and professional future, be it medical school, law school, trade school, vocational school, junior college, a university, a branch of the U.S. military, the Peace Corps, the Job Corps, or simply a low-paying entry level job upon graduation. For the sake of this vignette, portray this counselor as White, while the student is a Black or Hispanic junior who has maintained a 3.25 grade point average. This guidance counselor is advising this student to join the Job Corps to learn a trade. Is it possible that some guidance counselors in our Nation would tell such a bright student that he or she is not “college material”, as this one did? Explain. Unbeknown to the minority student, the guidance counselor had only a 2.25 GPA upon graduating score years ago! Thus, E4 asks why would any such “professional”, who obviously graduated from college, tell a bright minority student that he or she is not “college material”? How often in America do you think minority students follow such bad advice and disqualify themselves from “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” at the highest possible level? What eventually happens to any identity group when a disproportionate number of its members are "locked into poverty" or otherwise fail to become doctors, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, engineers, college professors or even presidents, etc., earning six-figure incomes? Explain. Because higher education has the best historical record in our Nation for building financial security, other than having been born into wealth, it’s obvious that the desuetude of one’s intellect is a virtual guarantee of making far less money as an adult! Albeit not all minority students are “college material”, E4 contends that far too many who are college material are given bad advice simply because of bigotry and racism in America. Ergo, demonstrate in your short film how important is it for high school students to take responsibility for ferreting more information about college than some guidance counselors would make available. Script the outcome of this student’s appointment in the Guidance Department. More importantly, script the subsequent course of action this minority student took, which determined the course of his or her future! The End.

 

VIDEO CONTEST:

Show a homophobic "50 something" European immigrant father, who has recently been injured in an accident, resisting his 22 year old son’s efforts to “nurse” him or assist him in bathing and other bodily functions. The stern patriarch wanted only his wife to attend to him because his pride in his virility taught him that relying upon any man was akin to being “less than a man” or in the American vernacular, "a punk". However, it was his weary wife who entreated their son to visit for a couple of weeks and to give her some needed relief. Script a discussion, wherein this son efficaciously teaches his father how to revisit his erroneous definition of “manhood”, and to even redefine it. As they both fondly reminisce about the father’s affection when he attended his son’s extra-curricular activities and hugged him often as a kid, create a discussion of what you think they might share. Include the son's filial description of the permutations differentiating homosexual, homophobic, homophilic and homoerotic male behaviors. Script this poignant dialogue between a heterosexual father and son, relative to how fallacious homophobic stereotypes in America often circumvent male bonding on a deeply physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual level. Contrast such a prototypical father son dyad in Europe or the Middle East and its more superficial counterpart in the United States. End this paternal vignette via both men shedding silent, yet virile, tears of atonement and love, followed by the father asking his son if he’s up to giving the "old man" a bath and a shave. The End.

 

VIDEO CONTEST:

Show a distraught Hispanic father getting a phone call from juvenile hall regarding his prodigal son. This good student and athlete was caught with drugs at school and may be expelled, as well as end up in prison! As they confront each other for the first time in jail, allow the son to scream and vent his frustrations about his father having never really cared about him nor having been there for him in the past. Allow the incredulous father to say that he was always there. In his mind, the father indeed was always there via having worked two jobs to provide well for his family. Allow the father to mention some of the great trips and other things he’s done for his family that others can only envy. Allow the son to say in Spanish, then in English, “But, Dad, I don’t care about material things. You were never there for me!” Allow this statement to precipitate a catharsis, as both the father and his teenaged son begin to see each other differently. Both immediately resolve to ameliorate their relationship and to atone without violence or disrespect. Have the father speak with the police about the incident, the future court date, his need for an attorney, and the criminal justice process. Once released into the father’s custody, allow the son to blame his father for his trouble with the law via reminding Dad of his domestic violence. Demonstrate the father's contrition regarding his poor parenting in the past while promising to become a better husband and father. With your camera focused upon the father’s countenance, allow a protracted dead silence in the car, followed by the father sharing with his son how he was often beaten and even sexually abused by an uncle when he was a youngster! Allow the father and son to both shed silent tears in the car as this profound revelation unfolds! Have the father continue via saying that he has never told anyone about that experience, but that he suspects some of his violence can be attributed to his troubled past. Have the father ask for his son's forgiveness. Allow the son to articulate forgiveness and unconditional love for his Dad while assuring him that he is still very much the man in his life! Then allow the son to lean over and kiss his father on the cheek and say, “I love you, Dad!” Moreover, have the son move closer and put his arm around his Dad’s shoulder as they ride in silence. Have the father, likewise, steer with only one hand and embrace his son. Record the surprised father’s facial responses to such an unprecedented act of male bonding and intimacy. Create a dialogue, initiated by the father, about what this night means to both “men” as they continue toward home. Let the son proffer counseling to help both of them put their brokenness behind them in order to have a healthier father son dyad. Script the father’s response, either positive or negative, as he shuts off the car in their driveway. The End.

 

VIDEO CONTEST:

Have a Black father call a Family Meeting to order in their living room to discuss their next vacation. Have each member contribute input as to what they would like to do as a family next summer. Portray the wife as one who is disagreeable and who refuses to submit to the authority of her husband and the father of her children. As a matter of fact, her husband adopted the bastard child she already had when they first met fifteen years ago. Yet, show an augmentative wife scolding her husband in front of their offspring, and saying, “You’re not a real man because…” Have her contumaciously remind her husband that she’s the professional with several college degrees, while he only graduated from vocational school and earns less than half of what she contributes to the household income! Then have the children contribute to the cacophony, followed by the eldest child coming to her father’s defense via sagaciously referencing Scriptures defining a virtuous woman. Have the father interject that his wife is always fawning over their church's pastor; yet she fails to give her own husband the respect he deserves in his home. Have the mother reject his accusations as ludicrous. However, let the daughter remind her mother that she had a child out of wedlock, so she needn’t pretend to be so “holier than thou”. Have an eleven year old son ask his mother what the pastor meant when he overheard him on the phone saying he missed blowing on her neck? Allow the eldest daughter to remind her mother that her adopted father was there for her, both emotionally and financially, more than her biological father ever was! Continue a monologue, as it were, via this daughter posing profound questions to her mother about the sanctity of Biblical husband and wife roles in marriage. Have the mother try to interrupt to answer, while the daughter retorts, “I’m not finished yet, Mother!” Then allow this nineteen year old to query her Mom about whether or not God’s standards for male and female roles in the family are compatible with the self-aggrandizing Feminist Movement in America. Script the mother’s defensive and untoward response. End this vignette via this bastard daughter commenting to her Mother that she plans to remain a virgin until marriage; and when she looks for a husband, she hopes that he will be "half the man" her adoptive father has been! The End. 

 

VIDEO CONTEST

Show a religious family, i.e. Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, about to have dinner. In your video, the father, mother and children are all seated at the dinner table, as they demonstrate quintessential respect and godly order within the family. In this devout family, the husband is the undisputed head of the home, while his wife is both his lover and his helpmate. In this vignette, have the father be the sole breadwinner and the mother a full-time home economist. Before the meal commences, which his wife has exquisitely prepared from scratch, have the father lead the family in prayer. As the food is being passed around the table, have one of the well-comported children ask the father, "Why can't we watch television like "normal" people, instead of talking at the dinner table each evening?" Script the father's sagacious response, as he uses the child's query as a segue to also discuss a moral issue confronting America's Youth. Then have the father ask each of his children, “How was school?” or “What did you do today?” After the children have all given a daily report to their father, have one kid play a practical joke on another sibling at the table, as the entire family laughs. Next, have the father praise his wife’s delicious meal and ask her to comment on anything that’s upon her heart. Script how this virtuous mother praises her husband as a great provider, husband, and nurturer. Have her remind her children to always respect parental authority and other adults. Let her admonish her brood not to ever take for granted the rare blessing of being reared in a loving and godly family. Have this mother share with her entire family something profound that she discussed with one of the children, upon his or her arrival home from school. Lastly, script this blessed wife and mother offering a prayer of thanksgiving unto God for having given her both a virtuous husband and wonderful children! The End. 

 

VIDEO CONTEST:

Show a horny teenaged male going on a prom date with a female. Show the ritual of his getting dressed, admiring himself in the mirror, being inspected by his parents, and having a “talk” with his father. Indicate his sexual intentions via a flashback to a conversation he had weeks prior with his male peers. Script them all comparing notes about what they have already experienced in the way of pubescent kissing, fondling, masturbation, etc. Have the smartest guy use terms such as concupiscence, cunnilingus, fellatio, frottage, monogamy, sodomy, STD’s, adult magazines and movies, etc., in his discussion of sex without his comrades fully comprehending what he’s even saying. Have this teenaged “scholar” subsequently break down each term in layman’s English so that all of his sexually charged buddies will at least think more intelligently about the consequences of their adolescent impulses and sexual activities! Then return to the prom night, replete with the teenaged male now having a “talk” with his date’s father before they leave in a limousine. Once inside the limo, have the male start to make his moves. The girl resists his mild advances. The male acquiesces, but only for a moment. He begins a conversation about how pretty his date's dress and hair are. She responds politely and brings up her plans for college and law school. As this testosterone driven jock leans forward to kiss her forehead, he again tries to put the moves on his date, this time placing her hand on his erection and fondling her breasts! His date sternly say no, slaps him, and threatens to tell her father about his lecherous conduct! Knowing that the girl’s father is a big and intimidating former GI, this horny teen relents and chooses not to try to get laid, once she has said no a second time! Script how such a conversation and prom date went. Then also script how the jock bragged to his buddies a couple of days later, although he did not do any of what he claimed to have done on the date with the virtuous young lady! Lastly, have the same "sexual scholar" articulate how being a faithful husband years from now perhaps begins with guys their age learning to control their concupiscence in high school. Have him refer to several sports figures or other celebrities who are paying dearly for their apparently not having done so! The End.

 

Home

 

Send mail to etothe4th@aol.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2004 E to the Fourth, Inc.