By Victoria Lynn Hall
I think my love of learning truly began after the first time I saw the original Gidget movie on television while home sick from school when I was 8 or 9.
I was entertained as I watched the main character played by wholesome beauty, Sandra Dee learn to surf by balancing upon a surfboard on her bed while her friend Betty Louise reads instructions from a book.
But it was the following scene where Gidget impresses the Big Kahuna with her surfing skills and then explains to him that she learned them from books that really made an impression on me.
“You can learn anything from books, you know.”Gidget
I’m not sure why but it hadn’t occurred to me before I heard those words that I could learn not just what teachers chose to teach me in school but anything I wanted to know just by reading books. This was an exciting revelation to me because I had so many questions and had become shy about asking them after realizing that it often annoyed the adults that I asked.
It wasn’t long after that day that I started becoming a frequent visitor of the library. Yet the more I fell in love with learning independently, the less I liked school. There were a few extraordinary teachers who encouraged and guided me here and there but they were the exception to what was mostly a boring or frustrating experiencing for me; boring, when the subject matter didn’t interest me and frustrating when I knew that what was being taught to me was either some dumbed down version of the truth or was partially, if not entirely, false. And it wasn’t just because their “facts” didn’t match what I had read but also because I had developed my own critical thinking skills and what they taught just didn’t make sense to me.
This is pretty much exactly how I often feel when I happen to read or view any form of mainstream media these days. It isn’t just because what is said doesn’t match what I have learned from Jesse or independent journalists or the people who share their experiences on social media that I am skeptical of what is said by a CNN reporter or in an editorial in the New York Times. It is also because what is said by those sources often makes no sense to me.
It doesn’t make sense when a politician or anyone who supports the U.S. blockade of Cuba which inflicts harmful conditions on the Cuban people, then says they “stand with” those people when they protest those conditions. It doesn’t make sense that the U.S. punishes governments in other countries for supposedly harming their own citizens by imposing sanctions that unequivocally harm those citizens and not their governments – not when they explain these actions as “humanitarian” efforts (and the real, economic reasons behind them only make sense if you’re a sociopath).
I sometimes wonder what kind of person I would be if I had never watched Gidget or been struck by those words in the way I had been; if I’d allowed my mind to be shaped only by what school and my limited experiences taught me. It’s possible my outer life may have been easier but at the expense of the rich and rewarding inner life that books have given me.
In the same way, I guess life might be more pleasant if I didn’t consume so much independent media or didn’t know the cynical truth behind so much of our government’s practices and policies. But then I also would not have the experience of knowing the depths of compassion and empathy I and others are capable of and knowing that we are capable of that is what gives me hope that the possibility of a better world for all can be realized.
In this episode, I referenced the following conversations:
MintPress News: Cuba Regime Change Op: Breaking through the Propaganda campaign on Cuba Protests (Livestream with Host Mnar Adley, Grayzone assistant editor and journalist Ben Norton and MintPress senior staff writer Alan Macleod.)
BreakThrough News: Cruel US Blockade Causing Misery and Unrest in Cuba (Rania Khalek talks with Manolo De Los Santos, founder & co-director of The People’s Forum in New York City and a researcher with Tricontinental who spent six years living in Cuba.)
Peoples Dispatch: Cuba has endured and will endure: Roger Waters (Roger Waters and Vijay Prashad talk about Cuba’s iconic history and inspiring actions as a beacon of resistance to imperialism and the example it has provided across the globe.)
And Jesse mentioned the following:
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A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm.
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.