Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Self-Realised Luddite

Having professed an absolute faith in education as a cure for everything from the common cold to the intransigence of nations from as far back as I can remember, I am continually surprised by the occasional eruption of a stubborn and sometimes malevolent ignorance in people from societies that have benefited the most from being notionally open and have evidently prospered from being welcoming of influences and cultures that has enhanced their understanding of the world and that should have contributed to a benign tolerance for beliefs that are not their own. This prosperity, to be sure, has been built on a savage history of violence and intolerance, but for a civilization that keeps harking back to Ancient Greece and the Renaissance as historical markers in their evolution culminating in the fair societies they are today, it is anachronistic that we should have widespread support for contemporary government policies such as the 'War on Terror', and 'Stop the Boats'.
The distinction between being a socially responsible citizen of the world and being an apologist for repression using discredited concepts such as, 'free trade' and 'Islamic fundamentalism', is as clear as glacial water in my mind and no inane discussions of globalisation and terrorism can induce a semblance of a sense of doubt to what is very clearly a fight between people who have rights and the rule of law, and people who don't and are being denied the same by the people who do.
What is horrifying is that these civic questions of what and to whom, and where and when, were answered by as far back as the dawn of civilization by people we wouldn't recognize as representative of the elites of today, and this even without having the benefit of living in a post-industrial age. We haven't simply failed as a race or a culture or even a species. We have actually failed to justify the capacity of our individual brains and our collective wisdom from a 100,000 years of history. It is self-defeating to point at all the proto, pre-historic and early-modern human civilizations and say that they failed too. So what? Is it because they failed that we shouldn't and cannot succeed now? And what about the unique tools we have as custodians of the earth today, such as science and technology and an almost limitless capacity to envision the possibilities of a better world?
Stop burying your heads in the sand. Terrorism will not stop until there are no more terrorists being born somewhere in the world right now. Poverty will not end until there are no more poor people being born somewhere in the world right now. Climate change will only get more damaging until we do not determine its destructive path any more by our capricious and obscene consumption of the earth's largesse. Share the resources you have been bequeathed. Spread the lessons of science and the benefits of technology everywhere you can. Stop stopping the movement of people around the world until people do not have a reason to move somewhere else any longer.
It is certainly not beyond our capacity to remake our world. It wouldn't even take very long.

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