Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dark Age Ahead?

Once in a while you get fragments of ideas, images that are not quite clear, threads that seem to weave themselves into a tapestry that may or may not make sense. When that happens, I try to write it down to see if it still makes sense. That is what I am doing right now. So bear with me, this may be too long but I think that these glimpses of a possible future are somewhat frightening.

When I chose a college, it was a "small Christian College" called the University of Redlands. What I learned there was that I had little admiration for those who proclaimed the truth and a great deal of admiration for those who were searching for the truth. Maybe it was the thread of existential angst that ran through that era.

That is probably why I reacted positively to the discussion on Bill Moyers Journal last night with Anouar Majid. Majid is the author of a new book entitled A Call for Heresy: Why Dissent is Vital to Islam and America.
BILL MOYERS: You are saying that an election is not necessarily the measure of democracy or freedom. That it is the extent to which the society permits, if I may, heresy, dissent?

ANOUAR MAJID: Yes. People who cannot live comfortably with differences always have a tendency to slide into tyranny. That's why we have to maintain robust differences within any-- every society-- any society to continue to prevent those practices from ever taking root. Or at least of becoming dominant in those particular societies. Differences are crucial to the emancipation of the mind. And as Adam Smith and other of his contemporary said-- "To a happy life." I mean, there's nothing better than a conversation.
This is a very important point in light of the Pew Charitable Trust Report that asserts that the World Publics Welcome Global Trade – But Not Immigration To close the door to immigration is to shut down one of the paths by which we maintain robust differences in our society.

We in California tend to think of immigration as a US problem with Mexico. The Pew study shows that it is not. This fact is underscored by the report from Current TV on Immigrants and Skinheads in Russia. This report, along with comments from Diane Sawyer, was featured on both Nightline and Good Morning America thus breaking through to MSM, or at least part of it. Watch the report. It is frightening in that this could not happen in Russia on the scale that it is without at least a nod and a wink from the Kremlin. Orthodoxy reasserting itself.

Are we that far from this in America? How much difference is there between the skinheads in Russia and the Minutemen? How close are we to the Islamic orthodoxy of Wahhabism and the smug media use by an Ann Coulter who wants to "perfect" Jews.

I took that title of this from the last book by Jane Jacobs. In Dark Age Ahead she warns a culture that gives lip service to valuing science but has not developed the scientific habit of mind to question and then seek answers. Too often we fall back to the orthodoxy of the past rather than looking at the evidence right in front of us. We fail to ask the right questions. Majib warns Moyers about that.
If we do not have dissent, if we do not have heretics among us, if we do not cultivate these habits of mind, in other word to think creatively and imaginatively and so on we're gonna remain doomed.

The Green Party is nothing if it is not a home for heretics, for those who will question orthodoxy, including the orthodoxy of our own narrative.

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