Ve Ri Tas: What I Learned from Taking a Harvard University Law Course

Today I completed an online course offered by Harvard University, covering the topic of contracts law. A course structured to provide a student 12 weeks to complete eight segments and a final test, I finished the class in less than five days. And I aced it with more than 98% homework grade and 92% total grade from the oldest educational institution in the United States (1636) – one of the world’s most prestigious schools.

I am very proud of this accomplishment…because I earned it. No one gave it to me. I paid for it with money I’d earned, not borrowed. No one helped me study or gave me the answers. I was given no special accommodations for my race, gender, religion, or age.

I was just as important or unimportant as the other tens of thousands of people who were in participation from every corner of the world, walk of life, and economic status.

I didn’t enter into this venture to be social. I wanted to hear the professor teach varying legal concepts and principals, and I wanted to gain knowledge from these videos. Unfortunately, part of the overall course involved “peer assessments” and peer discussions; those which I could not have been less interested in.

Anyone who spells paid “payed” and chocolate “choklate” is NOT someone that I would even remotely consider a “peer”.

Beyond that, it was the most enjoyment and satisfaction I’ve had in doing something constructive in I cannot remember how long.

I couldn’t walk away from it. It fascinated me, in large part due to the prof. Charles Fried, Ronald Reagan’s former attorney general and 85-year-old Harvard law professor, is a brilliant orator; a humorous grandpa-type storyteller and an overflowing fountain of legal knowledge.

Read his bio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Fried

As I breathe a sigh of satisfaction and let my brain rest before I take up another law class, this one focused on internet and media platforms, offered by the University of Chicago Law School, I reflect upon my privilege.

Yes. You read that correctly. Privilege. But this is nothing like what the 12-year-old millennial, white-guilted social justice warriors would bullshit you into believing.

My one and only privilege, the sole fortune that I will ever lay claim to is this: freedom to choose in this one life that only I direct and in whose only opinion matters is my own.

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

I was on MSN.com and happened to notice an advertisement, a story outlining different universities across the United States and free classes that they were offering.

Free. As in, no money required. As in – take it and run with minimal time and loss.

I read through every one of the 50 courses being offered by more than 30 universities in computer science, literature, aspects of law, food, business, and more. These courses ranged from a few hours to a few weeks for completion.

Some of the courses had nominal fees – $39 to $149 – to take the course and receive a certificate. All in all, I paid less than $180 for two 12-week classes.

It is some of the best money that I have ever spent.

There were/are no conditions attached to my enrollment and inclusion into these courses. None of them stipulated or required that I had to be white or black, that I had to be male or female, that I had to be within a certain age range, that I had to have any sort of previous experience or education level.

Any human who wants to be educated, to further their learning, to expand their mind has every opportunity to do so. They either have to make an effort; otherwise, they make an excuse.

“I’m oppressed”. “I’m suppressed”. “I’m too old”. “I’m too dumb”. “I’m not interested”. “I don’t have time”. “I can’t concentrate”. “I don’t want to”.

Horseshit. All of it. Anyone who is determined to stick by any one of these lame and poor excuses for not bettering themselves will always be oppressed, old, dumb, uninterested, and inanimate. And in turn will have nothing of value to offer to this world. They will spend their existence stumbling through the darkness of ignorance and spreading the toxicity that their excuses will perpetually generate.

If humans spent as much time seeking out enlightenment as they do in spewing their hatred, just think about how productive this world would be.

I take no stock in those who claim to be “educated”. An educated person is not a learned one, most generally.

Any idiot can earn an education from which they gain the ability to put all sorts of letters behind their names.

They can cheat, cut corners, plagiarize, and skate through school and training to get that dubious privilege.

In the end, they have learned little.

Learning comes from life, not from an institution. Reading a book, picking up a second or third language, pursuing an unfamiliar topic, traveling to a foreign country, watching human behavior, listening to conversations is learning.

Access to the wealth of information – decent, substantive, applicable – doesn’t require the direction of some career coach or instructor. Hell, I stumbled upon it by accident. Typing into an internet browser “free courses” will bring infinite details and options directly to any reader. The simplicity of it all is laughable.

The time is far better spent than some social media troll insulting or condemning others, or some mommy basement dweller touting themselves as some cosmetic influencer.

Just what this world needs.

I had no specific purpose in taking these courses other than I wanted to. I love law. I relish taxing my brain. These courses may or may not enhance my job ability. They may or may not be a progressive step toward earning another degree.

Learning doesn’t require intent or purpose; gaining understanding shouldn’t be done as a means to an end. All it has to be is pursued in the name of curiosity and personal growth.

It is easy to view learning, coursework, and testing as tedious and daunting. At the inception, it very well may be. Much like anything that is worth having, it is worth putting an effort into and it becomes an infectious practice.

The more I know, the more I want to know.

Sadly, ours is a world of overwhelming apathy. If this blurb were an actual conversation I’d hold with someone face to face, I would have expected to see the deer-in-the-headlights glaze come over their eyes and body language that screamed “looking for an out, away from this freak”.

Most wouldn’t care. Most couldn’t rectify in their heads why they would be even remotely interested in doing something like *gasp* learn something new or *say it isn’t so* to take a class just for the fun of it.

Much like our physical forms, our intellectual brains have to be exercised to be kept fit.

If you stand that up against a mostly-overweight and -obese society that we see crowding our city streets, you’ll appreciate that this world is – in a word – fucked.

Rest assured that the minds in those jiggling meat sacks are just as floppy as their bellies.

And these jelly bellies who find it easier to bitch about people accepting them for just whom they are because it’s easier to be lazy and demanding than it is to be fit and self-sufficient are the same ones that apply that slovenly attitude to their own privilege.

Every American has the same privilege to learn what they want, go where they please, and to live where they like – all within civilized reason.

But most are too lazy to recognize or exercise the privilege that they’ve ALWAYS had – it’s just easier to scream and bitch about someone else having more privilege than they. That way, things just get handed to them without work and without consequences.

This practice is generational, passed down from parent to child for centuries.

I study law, I have vast interest and fascination with everything legal because it defines the origins and the existence under which we all live. I can hardly identify anything else more important or applicable than law as it pertains to each and every one of us.

Far too many people are ignorant and apathetic to the laws that apply to them. Though law is a complex and extensive subject, the premise of how the legal system applies to each citizen is surprisingly comprehendible.

As far as I am concerned, legal framework and concepts should be taught in high school and to college freshmen as foundational educational requirements.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn”. – Benjamin Franklin.

One of my favorite films is the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men”. If you haven’t watched it, do. It really is a classic.

Tom Cruise portrays Navy lawyer Daniel Kaffee defending two Marine soldiers accused of murdering a fellow enlisted man at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

During a heated argument with his legal cohorts Kevin Pollock and Demi Moore, Tom Cruise admonishes them both for expressing their seemingly idiotic legal strategy:

“It doesn’t matter what I believe; it only matters what I can prove”.

Think about that statement for a second.

What each and every one of us believes is opinion only; shaped by nurturing, societal influences, perception, and…you guessed it…intelligence – that which we have been exposed to and have absorbed.

In order to prove something requires fact, science, truth. Veritas.

That which “is”.

These are concepts that can be applied to absolutely every aspect of our existence – what do I believe and what can I prove?

Think about the state of our world today. How much belief do you see driving the mindless masses? An alarming amount.

How much proof is behind recent major events – political polling, a pandemic, race wars, killings? Virtually none. Zip. Nada.

I live to pursue learning, to expand my mind, to stand as influential (in something more significant than mascara application).

I fully exercise my privilege, that which I have been blessed with, that which requires constant pursuit, and that which no ugliness in the world can minimize or camoflague.

VERITAS.

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