Educated Rant: Paris Hilton, Successful Disgrace

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“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
– Conrad Hilton

Paris Hilton seems to have adopted the Hilton maxim. Look how successful she is.

If that seemed like a criticism, it wasn’t. Paris Hilton knows what she wants–fame–and she gets it. As Conrad (great grandfather of Paris) recommended, she keeps moving, keeps doing things that keep her in the news. Fame and glamour are what she wants and she has been extremely successful at getting it.

Over the past several decades, primarily before the 1990s, citizens of western world countries were taught that by now we would have ample amounts of leisure time in which to amuse ourselves or to be amused. We wouldn’t be short of money because technology would make our lives so simple that we could earn more than enough to keep us in luxury by working only two or three days a week.

Corporations latched onto that idea and began to provide us with things to do that would occupy our time even before our working hours and days were reduced. We got television, then videos, now movies and TV programs on our cell phones if we want them. We liked it. We cottoned onto the easy life.

We spent hours every day sitting in front of the tube, watching mindless pap that amused us but kept us from thinking. The appetites we had from our days of high activity remained with us while our energy expenditure decreased greatly. Some of us saved that extra energy intake on our bellies, our thighs and our butts.

Though we had the start of the life of leisure, we didn’t manage to get the extra time off work. Some of us realized that not only was extra time off not coming, but if we wanted to have more of the luxuries that were offered we had to work longer hours to earn more income. Today some of us work 60, even 80 or 90 hour weeks.

Didn’t that affect our family lives? Sure, but they were falling apart anyway. We learned how to relax to excess or to work to excess to earn more money, but we didn’t know what to do with raising kids. That was OK because they no longer wanted to have much to do with us. We didn’t talk because we didn’t have interests in common. The kids developed their own dialect with words we parents didn’t understand. That wasn’t so bad because most parents didn’t want to know what their kids were talking about.

We all kept moving, kept making mistakes, kept forging our lives wherever they were bound to lead us. Conrad would have been proud of us.

Maybe not proud of Paris or her sister Nicky. But then, our kids are like Paris and Nicky too, to some extent. Too many of them.

Conrad Hilton got what he wanted. He became one of the richest men in the world. Paris got what she wanted, fame and notoriety (it went with the task of getting news coverage daily). What did we get?

We got broken families. In many classrooms today no more than 25 percent of the students live with both their birth parents. We got drugs. We got teen suicide at unprecedented levels. We got murder so common that radio and television stations don’t even report them any more.

We got gangs that didn’t replace the former underworld of organized crime, but added to it. We got depression so common that it’s almost a social disease. We got road rage and office rage. We got school shootings. We got dependency on prescribed drugs, therapists, so many people with unfit brains that they can’t all be kept in institutions.

And we call ourselves successful. Political conservatives say that our social problems are nothing more than side effects of our enormous success as a society. They don’t mind having to take Prozac to come down and Viagra to get up.

They also say that the rest of the world envies us because of our wealth. It doesn’t. The rest of the world hates us (or at least thinks we are a poison to humanity) because we have sold our souls to the devil. Or to Toyota, the drug manufacturers and political spinmeisters who can convince us that anything their candidate does is just grand.

There is one thing we missed out on in our quest for heaven on earth. The ability to think. We allowed ourselves to have it programmed out of us.

Why do so many teens do stupid things? They want to object to the unconscionable realities that we have accepted for ourselves and want to impose on them. They aren’t brain dead yet, so they keep kicking as long as they can.

Who’s to blame? That’s another thing we adopted, a penchant for always blaming others for our mistakes. Guess what? It doesn’t matter who is to blame. What matters is if we and enough others like us want to make our lives and the lives of our children, grandchildren and the people of the rest of the world better.

We can only begin with teaching children. That’s how it works. From the day they are born they are clay models we mold, day by day, incident by incident, neglected or rejected moment by neglected or rejected moment. They become what we make them, one way or another. They have no innate abilities to become anything else.

We need to start teaching children properly. Not reading and writing, since those are already taught in schools. We need to teach them how to grow to become competent and confident adults.

We can’t do that as it is now because most of us don’t know how. If we did, we would have been teaching them. We need to teach young adults and teens how to be good parents, how to provide what their children of the future will need, when they need it and how they need it to be fed to them.

Don’t stop moving on this when you finish reading this article. Talk it up among your neighbors and family, your workmates and fellow churchgoers, at your Home and School gatherings and political meetings.

Get something started. Nothing will improve without you. There aren’t very many of us yet who know what we need. Remember, the conservatives are trying to tell us that everything’s all right, that the universe is unfolding as it should. We need to tell them and everyone else that it isn’t.

We need to begin teaching our children properly. Today.

Do your part. Keeping talking about it. We need to help each other through a tough transition period.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about what children need to learn and when and who should teach it. And it has guides for teachers and parents who influence our kids the most.
Learn more at


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