Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - December 29, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Why U.N. takes a beating
By Norman Cousins
The Cedar Rapids Gazette: Sun., Dec. 3, lf74 JA
At the heart of the troubled condition of the I nited Nations today is a clear conflict between the way most human beings see the world and the way national governments see it
Increased numbers of people everywhere have a new awareness of themselves as members of a single world community. They know that the main problems of our times all have a world dimension — whether we are talking about the danger of war; or the arms race that consumes a large part of the world s resources even as it intensifies inflation. or the spreading danger of world famine. or the energy shortage; or the deterioration of the world’s environment; or the struggle for human rights
Hence there is agrowing sense that our planet has to be managed in the human interest
But this is not the way the sovereign national governments see the world They see it the way they have always seen it — as an arena in which they pursue their objectives through a balance of power or spheres of interest or through arms superiority The human interest as such is not the primary concern of sovereign governments.
Indeed, the core of the problem is that the national interest and the human interest are generally at odds,
The difference between the way most people see the world and the way national governments see it is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the attitude toward the I nited Nations. Most people want to eliminate the weaknesses and flaws of the United Nations and make of it an organization that can keep the peace on the basis of genuine justice — an organization that can represent the world’s peoples.
By contrast, most governments see the United Nations as an instrument for advancing their own foreign policies Thus the United Nations tends to be an amplifying system for separate foreign policies instead of an effective instrument for meeting common dangers and common n<H»ds.
How. then, can the national governments be made to change their view of the world — to see it as a single habitat that has to be managed for the human good?
Relevance has merit
As Americans, we have the obligation and the opportunity to register with our government our convictions about the need for a foreign policy directed to the human interest.
Americans have no reluctance to speak up on national and local issues — as they demonstrated so dramatically during the past year on Watergate, and as they have demonstrated repeatedly over the years on issues affecting us directly as farmers or workers or businessmen or professional people On such issues as wages or prices or subsidies or taxes we don’t hesitate to question the judgment of the government
It is only on issues of foreign policy
that we become deferential, giving the government a blank check to make far-reaching decisions. Yet Vietnam has demonstrated that There is no aspect of government that should be allowed to function completely apart from the
checks and balances of constitutional government.
An informed and articulate public opinion is an integral part of those checks and balances. Raising questions or prodding Hie government in an effort to push it in certain directions d<H*« not mean that we are necessarily dedaring our lack of confidence rn President Ford or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
It is entirely possible that the government may be looking to the public to furnish a base of support on certain issues. It may be impolitic, for one reason or another, for the government to take the Initiative on those issues
But even on thos£ issues which have already produced clear opposition by government, the public should not allow itself to be intimidated by what it conceives to be superior wisdom
In an open society, wisdom in government is always desirable, but it can never be taken for granted
Los Ango)** Times Syndicate
"That’s a nice stick, but you re forgetting the walk-softly' part!
Culture mills flunk assignment
By Jenkin Lloyd Jones
Several weeks ago, while on the campus of a very good Midwestern university, I walked into a couple of classes The sudden appearance of a gray-haired gentleman, barging in and taking a seat on the front row, shook the professors a bit but they asked no questions and one even handed me a text
I did so because although many people — journalists, taxpayers, philanthropists and politicians — are concerned about higher education, almost n»» nonstudent ever visits a class Kven trustees, regents and college presidents rarely drop in Yet the classroom is what it s all about
So I came into this English lit class and sat politely while an Irish ohscuran tist, who, I firmly believe, wrote his bulky jabberwm ky as a huge put-on, was dissected before an audience composed of the confused and the sleeping
Then I went across the hall to a history class where a woman was dilating on Thucydides, Herodotus and Xenophon in a lazy discourse devoid of spe cific example and arid as the Mojave The obvious was not merely belabored but diced, pulped and creamed
Que must grant, of course, that drawing general conclusions from two classes on a campus where hundreds an’ conducted daily is not exactly a scientific survey. But I was struck by the fact that my two random samples were just as bad as the average class when I was in college I suspected that the old stretch-out was still in vogue
The stretch-out is the business of (ak mg subject matter that might make five or six interesting lectures and extending it to a semester course t ompres-
sion requires hard work on the part of a teacher. F.xpansion is a cinch It’s also good for selling textbooks composed of one's doctoral thesis. But four undergraduate years are precious — or should lie — and he who wastes a student's time picks his |>ocket.
The cry for “relevant courses’* got a bad name during the crazy IMO* be-cause it was raised by New leftists in the hope that they could transform classes into Marxist bull sessions led by themselves. But “relevance" has merit, nonetheless.
Webster defines "culture" as "the training or refining of the moral and in-telleduul nature." No man < an claim to in* cultured if he has no grasp of the great accomplishments of the human past and little understanding of issues involved in the human future
It is now possible to go down the long cafeteria line in the average American university and arrive at the cash register with a tray full of olives, stuffed celery, soda crackers, junk lemonade and ice cream but containing few vitamins
In consequence, each year we turn out thousands who may have learned how to make a living but who possess only a few jigsaw pieces of culture They have only the foggiest notion of how to enrich their minds in the years ahead of them or what to do about the jMTpiexities lacing modern man
So maybe a prerequisite to a baccalaureate degr«T in any discipline should Im* three survey courses — man's arts, man’s institutions and man s future.
These should Ik* tough courses, worth at least five credits each and taught in successive years by the best men in a number id departments each delivering
as few as three and not more than half a dozen lectures.
How many sheepskins are bestowed each spring on students who have never really listened to a symphony or seen a Shakespearean play — even on film?
Not only is America the most tineared of the great nations (rockabilly rides with your car radio from coast to coast) but a high percentage of college graduates has never heard great |MM*try or learned that there are ways to tell the* difference between a fine painting and a daub
An overview of history ignoring dates of battles or names of minor kings but devoted to great movements, could be taught in a mind sticking manner in Mi hours
The campus majority which last winter was convinced that the energy crisis was a phony is a tribute to selective illiteracy A college generation that has little understanding of economic theory or that doesn’t know that collectivism leads to coercion could march our grandchildren into the prison house
In considering man s future, able lecturers could reveal both the promises and the dangers in cellular research, genetic engineering, population control, electronic snooping and spate science Why should many graduates of the class of 75 probe blindly into the last quarter of the century and ap|M*ar at the voting ttooth as wide-eyed children ’
Will Rogers once said, "Everybody is ignorant, only along different lines."
We seem to Im* graduating too many young Americans who are ignorant along too many linos
Way with words
By Theodore M Bernstein
\ college fad these day* is reported to courses and symposiums on death, e subject is called thanatology and tolars in the field are called thana-ogists Those words are basts! on (he wk root thanatos, meaning death
British English. If you are planning to
drive a car in Great Britain, you may need a little dictionary to help you un derstand what the road signs mean Elliott L. Biskind. who writes a column in the New York Law Journal, has assembled a few terms for us ignorant North Americans.
For instance, an emergency parking area on our highways the British call a lay by. Instead of our "men working or "construction ahead” they say road up A warning of falling rock they term loose slipping*. A circle of intersecting high ways they designate a roundabout (unless it s in an urban area, in which case it s a circus). ‘‘No parking' they translate into clear way "Slow” they emphasize by using a sigil that says dead slow Anil if your car won’t start, lust
look under the bonnet and may tie you'll find out what's wrong •
Word oddities W hell you put the kibosh on someone or something you put him or it out of action or squelch him or it The word was used as early as IK3H by Dic kens, hut its origin lies in a fog. One dictionary associates it with the word bosh, a eouple of them say it is of Yiddish origin, a slang dictionary thinks it is of Turkish origin and a student of BrcMiklynese trace* it to the Gaelic coip bai sh, a cap of death that inhabitants of southwest Ireland placed over a corpse Maybe all that uncertainty is not surprising considering that no dic tionary even knows where the word slang collies from
Nrw York T tm** Syndic ole
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