Just days after the cowardly attacks in Barcelona and Finland, on 21 August, I was watching the eclipse event live on Argentinian television. The camera was panning over the crowds of people who were there out in open fields in Oregon watching the eclipse. The Argentinian reporter was a being extremely voluble, I could only understand about 10% what he was saying. But that didn’t really matter. The people were peaceful and happy, I saw a sense of shared community and wonder. And it struck me, as I was watching the dark shadow of the moon start to eclipse the sun, what a wonderful universe we actually live in. There is so much to discover, and so much to enjoy, and yet it seems like human beings are their own worst enemies. Even the reporter was awestruck. I saw tears in his eyes.
But because of words that were written over 1300 years ago, by people who had no idea about the breadth and depth of the universe as it is, and as perpetuated by a bunch of sour old misogynistic fools who simply don’t know any better, we have people killing each other with vehicles and suicide bomb vests.
I find it incomprehensible, in today’s world, that people can still be misled and strung along by religious or political leaders of any stripe. Or anybody who seems to have enough charisma to gather followers. And, as I believe I said in an earlier blog post, I more and more strongly believe that it all comes down to the inability to do critical thinking. I don’t know the solution. I used to say it was education, but if people don’t want to be educated that doesn’t work very well does it? That’s the old adage about you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
But nonetheless, maybe that would be the key? A global initiative to introduce a course, a required course, that has to be passed in order to graduate from anything, on the art of critical thinking. Or to be allowed to vote. Of course, no religious or political institution is going to support something like that.
I sometimes despair when I think of all the effort that is wasted on security and conflict that could be instead put towards implementing sustainable energy or food production, cures for cancer and the common cold, education, or increasing the basic quality of life.
But all one can do I guess is to do one’s best. First, to not contribute to the problems, and two, to do the best one can to chip away at helping to solve the problems.
And of course, if the world governments would just put a moratorium on selling weapons to combatants … but no. What am I thinking. We can’t do that. That might actually work. And of course, it wouldn’t fix all the field expedient solutions that people could come up with, like driving vehicles along a crowded street. But, it could help reduce the breeding grounds for extremism and fundamentalism. Its lamentable that the main breeding ground for this type of insanity is what used to be called the ‘Cradle of Civilization’.