Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Regarding Ignorance, Fear and Prejudice

It is indeed unfortunate that the nation is so deeply and severely socially and politically polarized as we approach the 2012 Presidential election.  Collectively, we are approaching the future with many problems, some of which appear to be intractable.  Among these are serious poverty for tens of millions, homelessness, hunger and a health care system that denies nearly fifty million people access to appropriate care.  In addition to these uniquely domestic issues is the overweening problem of climate change that is global in nature and, if left unattended, could prove disastrous for the entire human species.

To solve these problems that are all readily amenable to solutions requires collective action and a broad-based consensus.   The fundamental obstacles that obstruct real progress in these areas of crucial importance and concern for both the domestic and global communities are fear, ignorance and prejudice.  Ignorance is, however, at the core of both prejudice and fear.  Reasoned judgment requires an understanding of the nature of the issues that currently plague humanity.  Without a knowledge of science, technology, history and a clear appreciation of the arts and the humanities, the untutored mind is readily susceptible to erroneous information, inflammatory language and prejudicial speech.  Without the ability to discern truth from fiction, to ask the questions that are required to understand a complex problem and evolve rational solutions, human progress can become stymied. 

In fact, there seems to be an ominous trend in the United States towards moving backwards to a time of apparent simplicity – a time in which superstition, prejudice and narrow and myopic thinking represented the essential relationship between human behavior and social laws and customs.  Such a worldview is entirely incompatible with the realities of the twenty-first century.  In my estimation, to embark on such a regressive course would prove to be entirely disastrous.

As citizens of the United States and members of the global community, we have the opportunity to choose the journey we would prefer to be on.  Either we collectively decide to elevate the qualities of being human that encompass reasoned judgment, a yearning for peace and a desire for true social justice, or we applaud ignorance, amplify fear and condone prejudice.  The choice is certainly ours to make.

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