There is an exchange between Naji Al-Hadithi and Robert Wiener in the film “Live from Baghdad”. It may or may not be based on an actual conversation, we are often much more clever in our memories.
Al-Hadithi says “You people take a lot of liberties”
Wiener replies “We’re the liberty people”
That was 1990, the world has changed. A nation which Abraham Lincoln described as “conceived in liberty” seems to have lost interest in freedom.
Oh, they don’t like to admit it. In a twist of speech that would make George Orwell proud, the definition of “freedom” has changed from “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action” to “the compliance with necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”. You have the freedom to do as you’re told.
Intellectual growth springs from the free exchange of ideas. Not only because we build on each others ideas, but because the act of thinking about new ideas stimulates our brains, and we in turn come up with more new ideas.
This is why we once led the world in innovation, and today can’t replicate what we once invented. Seriously. One NASA scientist has said we couldn’t build the space shuttle today because it’s “too complicated”. We could build it fifty years ago when no one had done it before, but not now. A space walk on the International Space Station is hyped as being extraordinarily dangerous. When Alexey Leonov stepped outside Voskhod 2 on 18 March 1965 it was extraordinary. Forty years later it was all but routine. Today it’s scary news?
An example of the mind numbing effect on a grand scale is China. Centuries of repression has left the nation bereft of innovation. They are excellent at replication, although without innovation in the west, they’re even falling behind with that. The Soviet Union landed on the moon in 1959, America in 1962, Japan in 1993, the European Space Agency in 2006, India in 2008, with China finally managing a hard landing in 2009. The Chineese government, seeking to increase innovation, has mandated 3.5 new patents for every 10,000 people. You cannot mandate creativity.
Not that I care. The measure of humanity is not technology, it is spirituality. You can frame this any way you wish, but who we are is defined by how we treat each other. The growth we have experienced through the revolutions of the eighteenth century and experiments with other social systems is regressing. Our freedom of education allowed the freedom of ignorance. Ignorant people prefer to be told what to do. They’re more comfortable when everything is the same, surprises, differences, can cause them to become agitated. This is the flaw of pure democracy. The weak minded need to be taken care of, so when they speak out they ask for uniformity.
After the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, there was a segment of Russian society that expressed a desire to return to totalitarianism. This is why Russian society has not progressed as quickly as other Eastern Bloc countries. They have elected leaders from the old school.
The desire to be taken care of leads the voting block that empowers totalitarian leaders. Well meaning but uneducated activists manipulate this voting block. It is important that we take care of each other, but legislating compassion is as useless as mandating creativity.
Over the last decade or so I have seen an increased move towards totalitarianism. An outright campaign against free thought. It most often masquerades as free thought, enlightenment, or intellectualism, and the weak minded fall for it. Those that don’t embrace the campaign are bullied into submission or ostracized. This should be obvious to an observer, but no one likes being chased by an angry mob.
There are plenty of problems with our political process, one of them being a lack of alternative ideas. So how can eliminating one of the two political parties be a solution? Yet that is the chant of the “progressives”, who envision an end of the Republican Party. Not to be outdone, the “Tea Party” dreams of the destruction of the Democratic Party. Both sides are calling for totalitarianism! Open your eyes and recognize these people are not talking about democracy. They are not talking about working together, they are not entertaining compromise, so do they represent you?
If it was only politics it wouldn’t be as disturbing. The recent “Duck Dynasty” debacle has illustrated intolerance in the name of tolerance. The hyperbole used to attack a person for their beliefs would be untenable were those beliefs of any different origin. The same people would insist on his right to express his beliefs were he Muslim, so the problem isn’t that he belongs to a religion that says being Gay is a sin, the problem is that he’s Christian. If he were Muslim he wouldn’t be saying “it’s up to God”, he would legally (under Sharia) be killing Gay people in the street. The same people who decry Phil Robertson’s “judgement” in quoting the Bible, are perfectly comfortable calling him a racist, homophobe, Aryan, and member of the KKK. It would appear, absent of Tourette syndrome, such words require a judgement. Not a rational, fact based judgement, but judgement nonetheless.
I used to believe that facts were the realm of science, but even the world of science has been over run by irrational thought. Despite all the data actually pointing towards “global cooling”, the “global warming” chant is relentless. Carbon Dioxide, a product of warming and thus a result of a period of global warming, has been used as an explanation of impending global warming. The effect cannot be the cause within a scientific statement. Research is ignored, rational discussion is abandoned, and the chant continues.
Another scientist I once respected has used his position as someone with an allegedly inquiring mind to stifle the inquiries of others. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has joined the ranks of those that believe that creation is inconsistent with its creator. Belittling others for their religious beliefs is not within the purview of an astrophysicist, but Neil seems to believe science and religion are mutually exclusive, and as a premiere scientist he can speak about religion. Were a priest to lecture on astrophysics I would have the same confidence in their views (none). Neil is not alone, another “humanist” recently said to me “The number of us who think humanism needs to supplant ancient flat-earth superstitions is definitely growing”, displaying an unbelievable ignorance of both world religions and demographics. Not that religion is, or is supposed to be, a democracy. Every religion I can think of teaches individual responsibility, the individual’s relationship with God is all that matters, which can only be vindicated at death, so how does that threaten the non-believer? Unless that non-believer thinks we should all believe exactly the same thing.
Our most precious liberty is the freedom to think for ourselves. If you deny that freedom to others, you have already denied it to yourself.
Think for yourself