Monday, August 6, 2012

Splitting the Difference – on Open-mindedness and Opportunity

It’s been turning up on my Facebook feed lately, a post-it-note that says something to the effect that all the posts in the world won’t change anyone’s mind. Well, some part of my mind has been chewing on that thought  -- it’s a very dangerous one.

This is not a tirade against anyone who posted it – it showed up several times and I didn’t even notice who had put it up there, let alone what the ideological motivation might have been. It’s the utter closed-mindedness that amazes me. “My mind (what little there is of it anymore) is made up; don’t give me any information, don’t remind me that not everyone agrees with me, and above all, don’t put me in a situation where I have to defend my position because either I don’t know enough to do so, or my position is indefensible.” That’s what it means.

We can’t afford that. Not on either side. Not on any side. We are so close to extinction as a nation that it takes my breath away and such calcification of thought will end us. This is no time to dig into a sullen funk; this is a time to talk. As the bard said, “Something is rotten in Denmark,” and we better fix it and not sulk around like Hamlet did. That didn’t end well.

We – the United States of America, the greatest, most benign, most prosperous, freest nation the world has ever known – is not too big to fail. That’s ridiculous. Remember Goliath? This world is littered with the remains of great empires, great countries, great cities.

§  What happened to Carthage? From the 7th century B.C. until the 2nd century it controlled all of the western Mediterranean. Now, inhabited by only 20,000 people, it is just a suburb of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, a third world country.

§  Where is Assyria? It once controlled all of what is now the Middle East. For the last 200 years of its existence its army never lost a battle. Now it is gone. People live in the land that was once Assyria, some of their buildings have survived, but that’s it. Gone.