Livy, Exceptional or Impossible?

KeiraKnightley3It seems the greatest controversy among the readers of Ticket to Ride is the believability of the first chapter. Without giving away what it is exactly, (I don’t want to spoil the book for those who have yet to read it), I will say there is an interesting dichotomy between the two camps. And I must preface the following statement with a caveat: I mean no offense.

In speaking to, and discussing this topic with, those on both sides, I’ve discovered that most readers with college degrees (and actually studied for them) find it very believable, no questions asked. Those who don’t find it believable, in general, have not furthered their education.

This is interesting to me because I believe it underscores one of the greatest problems we face in the 21st Century: Can we understand each other’s points-of-view if we come from largely different economic and educational backgrounds? Many of you will say: yes, of course, look at the progress we’ve made in terms of the acceptance of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Perhaps the next greatest obstacle will be in America becoming the “class-less” society that is, or was, the ideal of so many early Americans. Can the “blue-collar” class see eye to eye with the “white-collar” class and vice versa? Is the decline of the “middle-class” a factor? Should the “blue-collar” class seek only that level of education that Thomas Jefferson said was “necessary to their station in life?” Or is it that everyone in America could benefit from a classical education beyond our high schools? The next question might be: Would this make seeing eye-to-eye more likely or would further education make the “blue-collar” class feel more deserving, and justifiably so, of a better position in life, and therefore create greater tension? Given the current economic stratification of our society, there is no room for everyone to become a manager, or an owner, or a CEO. So would further education “spoil” those in that part of our society who, by virtue of our society’s structure, are destined to stay “blue-collar” and therefore, by their refusal to accept their station, create a hole that could only be filled by migrant workers or those who shrug off the notion that more of anything is better (in this case education). And given our societal model, someone also has to be unemployed. Who would that be in this new model? Perhaps the shift would be that the unemployed would be made up largely of this newly educated “blue-collar” class who has found no “upward” mobility. This raises two more questions: Might there be room in a future America for everyone to attain the “American Dream?” And further, should we want to attain it? These questions push the discussion into more philosophical waters and the subsequent questions become perhaps more abstract and Thoreauvian, or, esoteric in nature.

Needless to say the question of class is a tough one and, since I don’t have all the answers, and it’s probable that no one does, I will leave you with this: My uncle Russ, God rest his soul, made the following statement quite a few times in my life and the gist of it stuck. He said, (and I’m paraphrasing here), “whatever you decide to do or be in life, try to be the most educated one. Whether you’re a plumber or a carpenter or a chemist or an accountant, always try to better yourself by furthering your education.” Having heard this for the first time probably twenty-five years ago, I still can’t find any problems with his statement.

And it’s really too bad that the average American and, for that matter, the average World Citizen has allowed themselves, voluntarily or otherwise, to become the illiterate majority, not unlike those in the dark ages who could be made content with pretty pictures and the “Word of God.”

And as always, I must say: As much as I appreciate you’re reading my book, bear in mind I receive no royalties from it since the government has seen fit to embezzle all proceeds from all of my creative works via digital syphons.


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