Corporal Punishment and Infantilism: Why Haven't US Schools Changed Since the 1850s?
Nikhil Goyal examines the flawed US school system, bringing to light a lack of democracy, still-legal corporal punishment, and neglect by the media and presidential candidates.
Nikhil Goyal is the author of Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice (Doubleday/Random House, 2016). Goyal has appeared on MSNBC and FOX and written for the New York Times, MSNBC, The Nation, and other publications. He has also had speaking engagements with the Clinton Global Initiative University, Google, Stanford, University of Cambridge, SXSW, LEGO Foundation, among others. In 2012, Goyal was named one of the “World Changers” for Dell #Inspire 100. In 2013, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Freedom Flame Award. Goyal serves on the board of The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). He lives in New York.
Nikhil Goyal: I found it really quite odd that in the 2016 presidential election there’s been very little talk about K-12 education even though there are over 50 million people in our society that are affected by the decisions made by policymakers regarding public education. And I think what happens, what we’ve seen especially in the media in the past couple of years there has been a massive discussion around issues in education. I wish that the presidential candidates would address these concerns. And there’s been issues around charter schools and standardized testing and teachers unions and pay for performance. There are documentaries such as Waiting for Superman, The Race to Nowhere, The War on Kids. And so there has been quite a bit of discussion around education but I argue that some of the discussion has not been as authentic and rich as it could be. What the media journalist often frame the conversation around education is charter schools versus against charger schools. Pay for performance against pay for performance. Are you for standardized testing or are you against standardized testing. And I obviously believe those are important issues and they need to be talked about and debated. But there is a more important issue I think that is above all these kind of issues all together which is the American education system and the structures and the anti-democratic nature of this system.
And I think we have not talked about the teaching and learning practices of American schools. Why is it that 18 year olds who are about to go to college have to ask permission to use the bathroom for example? Why is it that corporal punishment is legal in 19 states in this country? Why is it that children have very few freedoms and rights in school? There was a study done by Robert Epstein, a psychologist and another psychologist who found that schoolchildren are put under two times as many restrictions as inmates imprisoned. So they have very few freedoms and autonomy in schools and nobody’s talking about this. Nobody’s addressing these concerns on a national scale. And so I think obviously we need to talk about standardized testing and charter schools and the like. But we also need to address the learning and teaching practices of modern schools. And why is it that schools have largely remained the same ever since their inception in the 1850s? So those questions I think need to be posed to our policymakers and I wish people like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton as well as the republican candidates – I mean Donald Trump has talked a little bit about issues around common core. But even on the democratic side I think there has been an astonishing lack of discussion and an agenda around K-12 education and I strongly urge the presidential candidates to discuss this issue.
Because you have millions of people who are affected by these decisions and I think the media has to do a better job enforcing this conversation onto the national stage. Oftentimes education journalists have very little experience in education or very little experience actually reporting on the schools themselves. Education is just kind of like one of those other beats and I argue that if you want to become an education journalist, if you want to report on education issues you just can’t go to that beat from the transportation beat or the national security beat. You have to do a lot of research and understanding of the history of public education, the structures that we have in place, policies. You just can’t go into this without having a strong idea of how the system was created and the purposes of it. And I find that most education journalists, one of the reasons why there has been such a poor quality of education journalism in the past couple of years and decades is because the education journalists have not had experience in schools, talking to students and teachers and they don’t have any idea of the history of the system.
So I mean one of the things I wanted to show in my book Schools on Trial was that I wanted to elevate the voices of the students and the teachers and the parents to show that their perspectives are basically not considered by policymakers, that they need to be part of this conversation. And the most important stakeholders which are the students and the teachers need to be part of this discussion and listened to very seriously because their concerns are legitimate and need to be put into action.
I think one of the reasons why there is such a binary kind of position of the way we look at education and charter schools versus public schools, standardized testing versus no standardized testing is because a lot of education journalists don’t have the context of what are these issues like. I mean the issues around standardized testing and, for example, charter schools are – I mean they’re not new. I mean these battles have been happening for decades. And if you want to take the issue of charter schools for example. I have somebody who is a supporter of some charter schools but have critiqued the charter school movement all together. And if you actually looked at the history of charter schools the original purpose of charter schools was to create publicly funded schools that were going to be innovative and given flexibility in terms of their standards and curriculum and testing. And if you don’t know that history, if you don’t actually have looked at where the system was created you can’t understand why the movement has been designed the way it has, structure has been operating today. And I think charter schools is an excellent example because you can’t – I think oftentimes the media kind of paints it with a broad brush.
I think there’s a lot of major problems with charters schools. The corporatization of charter schools. I mean for example Success Academy and allegations of child abuse and other concerns. But there are charter schools, for example, like High Tech High in San Diego, a project based learning innovative school that happens to just be a charter school. And so it is not a black and white kind of situation. It’s much more nuanced and the media oftentimes kind of pits one group against the other when I think a lot of people who support public education, who support many of my ideas would support charter schools if they actually were founded and wedded to the beliefs that we want to see for all schools all together.
This has been a rollercoaster of an election year, and it’s not even over. From Hillary Clinton’s tweets demanding Donald Trump delete his account, the 1000 Bernie supporters that sat on CNN's doorstep with #OccupyCNN trending (which CNN refused to cover), and pretty much everything Donald Trump has said going viral, it’s been a busy year for the presidential candidates.
While there are many issues that they have covered in debates and interviews, one issue that hasn’t been squeezed dry is education. In fact, it’s hardly been touched. There’s been a lot of talk about the Mexico-America wall being built, the Orlando shooting with a military-grade weapon, and immigration rights. But the issues of standardized testing, bettering our science classes, and charter schools hasn’t been discussed quite so thoroughly. These are not unimportant issues, they affect 50 million Americans, and if you consider education as a building block, in the broader scope of things it affects the future world of all Americans.
Education is important. Having our children’s minds cultivated to the best of each kid’s ability is the key to ensuring that the next generation can do better, build smarter, create more. But no one is talking about it.
Filmmaking has led to some awareness. As mentioned by Nikhil Goyal, the author of Schools on Trial, a few documentaries like Waiting for Superman, The Race to Nowhere, and The War on Kids has led to more open discussion about the problems with schools and modern education. It brought the tough issues to the forefront of many parents’ minds, however momentarily. But the problems are still rampant. Just this past April, Shana Perez filmed her own five-year-old son screaming and wailing as he tried to escape being paddled by a school official for truancy, and she was shocked at the rampant violence. Somehow, corporal punishment is still legal in 19 US states.
Nikhil Goyal's book is Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice.
Goyal argues that education journalism doesn’t often capture the full story, usually content to pit one kind of school against the other. With broad brushstrokes like this, not enough is really learned about the deeper systemic issues, and the students’ stories are left untold. The students know why standardized testing doesn’t work for them, and they’re the ones who can describe why corporal punishment doesn’t teach them. Instead of pitting charter schools versus public schools, Goyal believes journalists need to undertake more in-depth research about the problems in the US education system to fully understand and report on it. The education system hasn’t changed since the 1850s, frozen in time while progress has marched forth in most other societal arenas. Why is that? These are delicate subjects that need to be handled with thoughtful and studious journalistic reporting. With some hope, the presidential candidates will discuss this much needed topic with as much care as it deserves.
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As bad as this sounds, a new essay suggests that we live in a surprisingly egalitarian age.
- A new essay depicts 700 years of economic inequality in Europe.
- The only stretch of time more egalitarian than today was the period between 1350 to approximately the year 1700.
- Data suggest that, without intervention, inequality does not decrease on its own.
Economic inequality is a constant topic. No matter the cycle — boom or bust — somebody is making a lot of money, and the question of fairness is never far behind.
A recently published essay in the Journal of Economic Literature by Professor Guido Alfani adds an intriguing perspective to the discussion by showing the evolution of income inequality in Europe over the last several hundred years. As it turns out, we currently live in a comparatively egalitarian epoch.
Seven centuries of economic history
Figure 8 from Guido Alfani, Journal of Economic Literature, 2021.
This graph shows the amount of wealth controlled by the top ten percent in certain parts of Europe over the last seven hundred years. Archival documentation similar to — and often of a similar quality as — modern economic data allows researchers to get a glimpse of what economic conditions were like centuries ago. Sources like property tax records and documents listing the rental value of homes can be used to determine how much a person's estate was worth. (While these methods leave out those without property, the data is not particularly distorted.)
The first part of the line, shown in black, represents work by Prof. Alfani and represents the average inequality level of the Sabaudian State in Northern Italy, The Florentine State, The Kingdom of Naples, and the Republic of Venice. The latter part, in gray, is based on the work of French economist Thomas Piketty and represents an average of inequality in France, the United Kingdom, and Sweden during that time period.
Despite the shift in location, the level of inequality and rate of increase are very similar between the two data sets.
Apocalyptic events cause decreases in inequality
Note that there are two substantial declines in inequality. Both are tied to truly apocalyptic events. The first is the Black Death, the common name for the bubonic plague pandemic in the 14th century, which killed off anywhere between 30 and 50 percent of Europe. The second, at the dawn of the 20th century, was the result of World War I and the many major events in its aftermath.
The 20th century as a whole was a time of tremendous economic change, and the periods not featuring major wars are notable for having large experiments in distributive economic policies, particularly in the countries Piketty considers.
The slight stall in the rise of inequality during the 17th century is the result of the Thirty Years' War, a terrible religious conflict that ravaged Europe and left eight million people dead, and of major plagues that affected South Europe. However, the recurrent outbreaks of the plague after the Black Death no longer had much effect on inequality. This was due to a number of factors, not the least of which was the adaptation of European institutions to handle pandemics without causing such a shift in wealth.
In 2010, the last year covered by the essay, inequality levels were similar to those of 1340, with 66 percent of the wealth of society being held by the top ten percent. Also, inequality levels were continuing to rise, and the trends have not ended since. As Prof. Alfani explained in an email to BigThink:
"During the decade preceding the Covid pandemic, economic inequality has shown a slow tendency towards further inequality growth. The Great Recession that began in 2008 possibly contributed to slow down inequality growth, especially in Europe, but it did not stop it. However, the expectation is that Covid-19 will tend to increase inequality and poverty. This, because it tends to create a relatively greater economic damage to those having unstable occupations, or who need physical strength to work (think of the effects of the so-called "long-Covid," which can prove physically invalidating for a long time). Additionally, and thankfully, Covid is not lethal enough to force major leveling dynamics upon society."
Can only disasters change inequality?
That is the subject of some debate. While inequality can occur in any economy, even one that doesn't grow all that much, some things appear to make it more likely to rise or fall.
Thomas Piketty suggested that the cause of changes in inequality levels is the difference in the rate of return on capital and the overall growth rate of the economy. Since the return on capital is typically higher than the overall growth rate, this means that those who have capital to invest tend to get richer faster than everybody else.
While this does explain a great deal of the graph after 1800, his model fails to explain why inequality fell after the Black Death. Indeed, since the plague destroyed human capital and left material goods alone, we would expect the ratio of wealth over income to increase and for inequality to rise. His model can provide explanations for the decline in inequality in the decades after the pandemic, however- it is possible that the abundance of capital could have lowered returns over a longer time span.
The catastrophe theory put forth by Walter Scheidel suggests that the only force strong enough to wrest economic power from those who have it is a world-shattering event like the Black Death, the fall of the Roman Empire, or World War I. While each event changed the world in a different way, they all had a tremendous leveling effect on society.
But not even this explains everything in the above graph. Pandemics subsequent to the Black Death had little effect on inequality, and inequality continued to fall for decades after World War II ended. Prof. Alfani suggests that we remember the importance of human agency through institutional change. He attributes much of the post-WWII decline in inequality to "the redistributive policies and the development of the welfare states from the 1950s to the early 1970s."
What does this mean for us now?
As Professor Alfani put it in his email:
"[H]istory does not necessarily teach us whether we should consider the current trend toward growth in economic inequality as an undesirable outcome or a problem per se (although I personally believe that there is some ground to argue for that). Nor does it teach us that high inequality is destiny. What it does teach us, is that if we do not act, we have no reason whatsoever to expect that inequality will, one day, decline on its own. History also offers abundant evidence that past trends in inequality have been deeply influenced by our collective decisions, as they shaped the institutional framework across time. So, it is really up to us to decide whether we want to live in a more, or a less unequal society."
Our love-hate relationship with browser tabs drives all of us crazy. There is a solution.
- A new study suggests that tabs can cause people to be flustered as they try to keep track of every website.
- The reason is that tabs are unable to properly organize information.
- The researchers are plugging a browser extension that aims to fix the problem.
A lot of ideas that people had about the internet in the 1990s have fallen by the wayside as technology and our usage patterns evolved. Long gone are things like GeoCities, BowieNet, and the belief that letting anybody post whatever they are thinking whenever they want is a fundamentally good idea with no societal repercussions.
While these ideas have been abandoned and the tools that made them possible often replaced by new and improved ones, not every outdated part of our internet experience is gone. A new study by a team at Carnegie Mellon makes the case that the use of tabs in a web browser is one of these outdated concepts that we would do well to get rid of.
How many tabs do you have open right now?
We didn't always have tabs. Introduced in the early 2000s, tabs are now included on all major web browsers, and most users have had access to them for a little over a decade. They've been pretty much the same since they came out, despite the ever changing nature of the internet. So, in this new study, researchers interviewed and surveyed 113 people on their use of — and feelings toward — the ubiquitous tabs.
Most people use tabs for the short-term storage of information, particularly if it's information that is needed again soon. Some keep tabs that they know they'll never get around to reading. Others used them as a sort of external memory bank. One participant described this action to the researchers:
"It's like a manifestation of everything that's on my mind right now. Or the things that should be on my mind right now... So right now, in this browser window, I have a web project that I'm working on. I don't have time to work on it right now, but I know I need to work on it. So it's sitting there reminding me that I need to work on it."
You suffer from tab overload
Unfortunately, trying to use tabs this way can cause a number of problems. A quarter of the interview subjects reported having caused a computer or browser to crash because they had too many tabs open. Others reported feeling flustered by having so many tabs open — a situation called "tab overload" — or feeling ashamed that they appeared disorganized by having so many tabs up at once. More than half of participants reported having problems like this at least two or three times a week.
However, people can become emotionally invested in the tabs. One participant explained, "[E]ven when I'm not using those tabs, I don't want to close them. Maybe it's because it took efforts [sic] to open those tabs and organize them in that way."
So, we have a tool that inefficiently saves web pages that we might visit again while simultaneously reducing our productivity, increasing our anxiety, and crashing our machines. And yet we feel oddly attached to them.
Either the system is crazy or we are.
Skeema: The anti-tab revolution
The researchers concluded that at least part of the problem is caused by tabs not being an ideal way of organizing the work we now do online. They propose a new model that better compartmentalizes tabs by task and subtask, reflects users' mental models, and helps manage the users' attention on what is important right now rather than what might be important later.
To that end, the team also created Skeema, an extension for Google Chrome, that treats tabs as tasks and offers a variety of ways to organize them. Users of an early version reported having fewer tabs and windows open at one time and were better able to manage the information they contained.
Tabs were an improvement over having multiple windows open at the same time, but they may have outlived their usefulness. While it might take a paradigm shift to fully replace the concept, the study suggests that taking a different approach to tabs might be worth trying.
And now, excuse me, while I close some of the 87 tabs I currently have open.
Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.
- U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
- Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
- While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
The U.S. Navy controls patents for some futuristic and outlandish technologies, some of which, dubbed "the UFO patents," came to life recently. Of particular note are inventions by the somewhat mysterious Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, whose tech claims to be able to "engineer reality." His slate of highly-ambitious, borderline sci-fi designs meant for use by the U.S. government range from gravitational wave generators and compact fusion reactors to next-gen hybrid aerospace-underwater crafts with revolutionary propulsion systems, and beyond.
Of course, the existence of patents does not mean these technologies have actually been created, but there is evidence that some demonstrations of operability have been successfully carried out. As investigated and reported by The War Zone, a possible reason why some of the patents may have been taken on by the Navy is that the Chinese military may also be developing similar advanced gadgets.
Among Dr. Pais's patents are designs, approved in 2018, for an aerospace-underwater craft of incredible speed and maneuverability. This cone-shaped vehicle can potentially fly just as well anywhere it may be, whether air, water or space, without leaving any heat signatures. It can achieve this by creating a quantum vacuum around itself with a very dense polarized energy field. This vacuum would allow it to repel any molecule the craft comes in contact with, no matter the medium. Manipulating "quantum field fluctuations in the local vacuum energy state," would help reduce the craft's inertia. The polarized vacuum would dramatically decrease any elemental resistance and lead to "extreme speeds," claims the paper.
Not only that, if the vacuum-creating technology can be engineered, we'd also be able to "engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level," states the patent. This would lead to major advancements in aerospace propulsion and generating power. Not to mention other reality-changing outcomes that come to mind.
Among Pais's other patents are inventions that stem from similar thinking, outlining pieces of technology necessary to make his creations come to fruition. His paper presented in 2019, titled "Room Temperature Superconducting System for Use on a Hybrid Aerospace Undersea Craft," proposes a system that can achieve superconductivity at room temperatures. This would become "a highly disruptive technology, capable of a total paradigm change in Science and Technology," conveys Pais.
High frequency gravitational wave generator.
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Another invention devised by Pais is an electromagnetic field generator that could generate "an impenetrable defensive shield to sea and land as well as space-based military and civilian assets." This shield could protect from threats like anti-ship ballistic missiles, cruise missiles that evade radar, coronal mass ejections, military satellites, and even asteroids.
Dr. Pais's ideas center around the phenomenon he dubbed "The Pais Effect". He referred to it in his writings as the "controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma) via accelerated spin and/or accelerated vibration under rapid (yet smooth) acceleration-deceleration-acceleration transients." In less jargon-heavy terms, Pais claims to have figured out how to spin electromagnetic fields in order to contain a fusion reaction – an accomplishment that would lead to a tremendous change in power consumption and an abundance of energy.
According to his bio in a recently published paper on a new Plasma Compression Fusion Device, which could transform energy production, Dr. Pais is a mechanical and aerospace engineer working at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), which is headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland. Holding a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Pais was a NASA Research Fellow and worked with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. His current Department of Defense work involves his "advanced knowledge of theory, analysis, and modern experimental and computational methods in aerodynamics, along with an understanding of air-vehicle and missile design, especially in the domain of hypersonic power plant and vehicle design." He also has expert knowledge of electrooptics, emerging quantum technologies (laser power generation in particular), high-energy electromagnetic field generation, and the "breakthrough field of room temperature superconductivity, as related to advanced field propulsion."
Suffice it to say, with such a list of research credentials that would make Nikola Tesla proud, Dr. Pais seems well-positioned to carry out groundbreaking work.
A craft using an inertial mass reduction device.
Credit: Salvatore Pais
The patents won't necessarily lead to these technologies ever seeing the light of day. The research has its share of detractors and nonbelievers among other scientists, who think the amount of energy required for the fields described by Pais and his ideas on electromagnetic propulsions are well beyond the scope of current tech and are nearly impossible. Yet investigators at The War Zone found comments from Navy officials that indicate the inventions are being looked at seriously enough, and some tests are taking place.
If you'd like to read through Pais's patents yourself, check them out here.
Laser Augmented Turbojet Propulsion System
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Seek pleasure and avoid pain. Why make it more complicated?
- The Epicureans were some of the world's first materialists and argued that there is neither God, nor gods, nor spirits, but only atoms and the physical world.
- They believed that life was about finding pleasure and avoiding pain and that both were achieved by minimizing our desires for things.
- The Epicurean Four Step Remedy is advice on how we can face the world, achieve happiness, and not worry as much as we do.
Self-help books are consistently on the best-seller lists across the world. We can't seem to get enough of happiness advice, wellness gurus, and life coaches. But, as the Book of Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun. The Ancient Greeks were into the self-help business millennia before the likes of Dale Carnegie and Mark Manson.
Four schools of ancient Greek philosophy
From the 3rd century BCE until the birth of Jesus, Greek philosophy was locked into an ideological war. Four rival schools emerged, each proclaiming loudly that they — alone — had the secret to a happy and fulfilled life. These schools were: Stoicism, Cynicism, Skepticism, and Epicureanism. Each had their advocates and even had a kind of PR battle to get people to sign up to their side. They were trying to sell happiness.
Epicurus's guide to living is noticeably different from a lot of modern self-help books in just how little day-to-day advice it gives.
Many of us are familiar with Stoicism, a topic I covered recently, because it forms the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy. Skepticism and Cynicism have become watered down or warped variations of their original forms. (I will cover these in future articles.) Today, we focus on the most underappreciated of these schools, the Epicureans. In their philosophy, we can find a surprisingly modern and easy-to-follow "Four Part Remedy" to life.
Epicureans: The first atheists
The Epicureans were some of history's first materialists. They believed that the world was made up only of atoms (and void), and that everything is simply a particular composition of these atoms. There were no gods, spirits, or souls (or, at most, they're irrelevant to the world as we encounter it). They thought that there was no afterlife or immortality to be had, either. Death is just a relocation of atoms. This atheism and materialism was what the Christian Church would later come to despise, and after centuries of being villainized by priests, popes, and church doctrine, the Epicureans fell out of fashion.
In the atomistic, worldly philosophy of the Epicureans, all there is to life is to get as much pleasure as you can and avoid pain. This isn't to become some rampant hedonist, staggering from opium dens to brothels, but concerns the higher pleasures of the mind.
Epicurus, himself, believed that pleasure was defined as the satisfying of a desire, such as when we drink a glass of water when we're really thirsty. But, he also argued that desires themselves were painful since they, by definition, meant longing and anguish. Thirst is a desire, and we don't like being thirsty. True contentment, then, could not come from creating and indulging pointless wants but must instead come from minimizing desire altogether. What would be the point of setting ourselves new targets? These are just new desires that we must make efforts to satisfy. Thus, minimizing pain meant minimizing desires, and the bare minimum desires were those required to live.
The Four Part Remedy
Given that Epicureans were determined to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, they developed a series of rituals and routines designed to help. One of the best known (not least because we've lost so much written by the Epicureans) was the so-called "Four Part Remedy." These were four principles they believed we ought to accept so that we might find solace and be rid of existential and spiritual pain:
1. Don't fear God. Remember, everything is just atoms. You won't go to hell, and you won't go to heaven. The "afterlife" will be nothingness, in just the same way as when you had no awareness whatsoever of the dinosaurs or Cleopatra. There was simply nothing before you existed, and death is a great expanse of the same timeless, painless void.
2. Don't worry about death. This is a natural corollary of Step 1. With no body, there is no pain. In death, we lose all of our desires and, along with them, suffering and discontent. It's striking how similar in tone this sounds to a lot of Eastern, especially Buddhist, philosophy at the time.
3. What is good is easy to get. Pleasure comes in satisfying desires, specifically the basic, biological desires required to keep us alive. Anything more complicated than this, or harder to achieve, just creates pain. There's water to be drunk, food to be eaten, and beds to sleep in. That's all you need.
4. What is terrible is easy to endure. Even if it is difficult to satisfy the basic necessities, remember that pain is short-lived. We're rarely hungry for long, and sicknesses most often will be cured easily enough (and this was written 2300 years before antibiotics). All other pains often can be mitigated by pleasures to be had. If basic biological necessities can't be met, then you die — but we already established there is nothing to fear from death.
Epicurus's guide to living is noticeably different from a lot of modern self-help books in just how little day-to-day advice it gives. It doesn't tell us "the five things you need to do before breakfast" or "visit these ten places, and you'll never be sad again." Just like it's rival school of Stoicism, Epicureanism is all about a psychological shift of some kind.
Namely, that psychological shift is about recognizing that life doesn't need to be as complicated as we make it. At the end of the day, we're just animals with basic needs. We have the tools necessary to satisfy our desires, but when we don't, we have huge reservoirs of strength and resilience capable of enduring it all. Failing that, we still have nothing to fear because there is nothing to fear about death. When we're alive, death is nowhere near; when we're dead, we won't care.
Practical, modern, and straightforward, Epicurus offers a valuable insight to life. It's existential comfort for the materialists and atheists. It's happiness in four lines.