[Opinion] Why are you here?   

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By: Paxton Decker

Why the hell are you here?   

You can drop out. You know you could. You could do it right now. Just close the article already.

You’ve probably already thought about it. If you’re 16, then you are one paper form and a government bureaucrat away from flying into the night never to return. 

So it’s worth asking, why don’t you do it? 

Two years ago, a substitute teacher offered an answer so viscerally upsetting that it still bothers me today.

She said: “Well, you need to study hard so you can get a job, and make lots of money, right? Why else would you be here?”

Why else would I be here? 

What was so startling is that usually the answer was a scripted and carefully crafted answer involving something about personal growth or learning or fulfillment or freedom or whatever two cent mush of words to mask the blunt truth.

But the reality is, you need to get a job. You need to make money.

Call me suspicious, call me paranoid, but it sounds like there may be other reasons we’re here besides learning. 

Caution to the wind, it’s time to get cynical. School doesn’t exist so we can become better people. The US Government doesn’t spend almost $700 billion nationwide and over $12,000 on you so you can broaden your horizons. The Government genuinely couldn’t care less if I know the plot of Frankenstein, or understand the Mitochondria, or remember what the Tang dynasty’s farming policy was. 

I am a bucket of tax money.

Consider education an investment in future taxes. The fact is, educated citizens are more productive. Which means more tax money. 

You are also socialized at school. We learn to work with others so we can be good little workers and do our part in a corporation. We say the pledge of allegiance so we buy into the “founding ideas” of “America.” The only specific high school classes that we are required to take by federal law are US History and US Government.

How strange.

An American that sits down in their cubicle, works 9-5 seven days a week, 52 weeks a year and doesn’t question or, God-forbid, think critically about what they’re doing is an American that pays their taxes and doesn’t cause trouble. A good American. 

Now that’s the kind of American the Government is looking for. 

Let’s take off our tin-foil hats for just a moment. Of course there are people in Grandview who genuinely want you to learn. Your teachers perhaps. They sign up for a low paying job to help you learn, so appreciate them. And you may genuinely enjoy learning, or at the very least find it useful.

But the good intentions of teachers and students don’t exactly compel our political and economic systems. You are a stack of future cash to both Government and Corporation. And so we are educated for that. We are not in school to think. Thinking is dangerous. 

So no thinking.

We read textbooks

We follow the line leader 

We accept the information

We follow the bell schedule

We replicate the instruction

We vomit the words the teacher gave us back onto a page

This is a factory for factory workers. 

But that doesn’t change the fact that we’re here. We may have learned to play the game. We may have even done some dangerous thinking in some dangerous classes. Who can say?

Go get that diploma, go get to that college, or job, or military service, or whatever your end goal is. And you know what? Become that great bucket of money!

Because if we can’t get a job to make money to finally buy that 3-in-1 kitchen set, fancy shoes, and plastic consumer crap, why else would we be here?

All we can do for now is to have a personal reason for sticking through it. The monotony of not owning your own time will likely not change. So get a reason to stick through it.

You’ll need it.