Newsweek magazine has reported a “small but growing” movement to bring Transcendental Meditation into American classrooms. Better it were “small and shrinking.”
A sort of meditation technique rooted in Hinduism, TM made a splash a few decades back, its practitioners claiming it brought huge physical, mental and spiritual benefits, including, they announced at one point, the power to levitate. TM had an office in Little Rock at the time, staffed by half a dozen uber-earnest young people. A reporter and a photographer from a daily newspaper stopped by, seeking a shot of the TMers squatting in mid-air. But the journalists were told the staffers were busy with other duties — dusting, running the vacuum — and furthermore, the levitation power was fully operational only a few times a day and only for brief periods even then; hardly worth the cost of film. State legislators were not put off so easily. When the TMers proposed to take their program into the state prisons, the fractious Rep. Boyce Alford of Pine Bluff led the opposition. He quoted the old song, “If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls I would fly,” and warned that dangerous criminals would use TM training to float over the fence to freedom. A TM spokesman sought to assure him the risk was small — the convicts would be given only low levels of TM, he said; they probably wouldn't be able to clear the fence, and if they did get over, they wouldn't sail far. Alford was implacable. There'd be no TM in Arkansas prisons.
Not long after that, TM began to lose popularity, the Little Rock office closed. We'd heard little of TM since until this recent Newsweek report. TM is part religion, and should be barred from the classroom for that reason alone. But there remains the other danger too, of restive students using this new knowledge to soar away from their studies. And into mischief, most likely. The charter-school crowd probably calls this “reform.” We do not.
Whatever other sins Lu Hardin may have committed, he was clearly guilty of getting above himself, and that's a serious offense in this part of the country. Hoping to persuade the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees that he deserved more money, the UCA president compared his pay to that of presidents and chancellors at the University of Arkansas, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University. All these institutions are bigger, richer and more prestigious than UCA, even Ole Miss. UCA needs comparison with universities of similar size and situation — Arkansas State, UALR, out-of-state members of the inconspicuous athletic conference UCA belongs to. Outgrow your britches, and you'll likely mess up, the Greeks said, and it remains true today.