Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Politics of the Absurd

I would like to preface this discussion with the idea that we, as a nation, live in exceedingly dangerous times. The most compelling evidence for me is the results of the recent mid-term elections. So many of the candidates, chosen for office by their electorate, have taken positions on critical issues that are rife with anti-intellectual and anti-science rhetoric. Their sense of implacable self-righteousness seems to dominate their thinking. They are apparently devoid of even the barest hint of humility. In my thinking, humility is the capacity to acknowledge that one can be mistaken, and it is an absolutely essential characteristic for those who assume positions of leadership. Without humility, we position ourselves, as a people, to a frightful future, for there can be no collective sanity without embracing our failings and our mistakes. To be devoid of humility is to welcome disaster.

Demagogues are often appealing during frightening times, for their madness entices those who are desperate for clarity, purpose and straightforward solutions no matter how absurd the answers might be in the light of critical thinking. Self righteousness can brook no compromise, for ideology is sustained and propelled by myopic vision. It proclaims clarity where there is none; it takes ownership of moral certitude where uncertainty abounds; it takes on the guise of salvation in spite of the evidence to the contrary.

If the nation is determined to choose leaders that cloak themselves in the guise of such righteousness at the ultimate expense of the common good, then we are a nation in serious trouble. This is the politics of the absurd and the dangerous.

If we are a nation in crisis, as all the evidence suggests, the answer does not lie in absurd and extreme notions, but rather through the use of reason and rational judgment in the true spirit of peace and humility.

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