Letter: 'It is time to tend our gardens'

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As a university teacher for 40-plus years in four different states, critical thinking was the valued “bottom line” for every course. My urban, multi- generational and multi-ethnic students were the first in their families to attend college. They balanced full-time working, parenting, paying their bills, and studying. I wonder how they voted this year – whether worrying about making tuition payments every semester outweighed any long-term cost-benefit analyses of a Trump presidency. In the aftermath of the Trump victory, much has been made of the level of education demographics of his “people,” or if economic common denominators prevailed.

Edgar Allen Beem asserted: “The real brilliance of Trump’s epistemological coup is that the rest of us no longer have any appeal to the rational. Trump has managed to discredit knowledge entirely.”

I disagree about the coup over thinking and about discrediting knowledge entirely.

In the Oxford English Dictionary entry, “ignorance” is a lack of knowledge; the word dates to 1225. However, “to ignore” dates to the 1600s Renaissance and means to refuse to take notice of; not to recognize; to disregard intentionally, leave out of consideration, shut one’s eyes to.

We always have a choice how to think about our decisions. This year, we needed to balance head, heart, stomach, fatigue from a relentlessly unproductive Congress, and anger at the uncivil discourse among almost every candidate from whom we had to choose.

Voltaire got it right: it is time to tend to our gardens. And to think deeply while we prune.

Thomas V. McGovern
Portland 

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