Tuesday, February 20, 2007
one of the drawbacks of getting your ideas form television is that you have to get your ideas in small enough chunks to fit between commercial breaks. noam chomsky pointed this out in the film 'manufacturing consent'. any truly different idea, that completely overturns what you have come to believe, sounds like nonsense on a chat show (btw, although put forth this way, this doesnt entirely justify every time chomsky has sounded like nonsense to me). because any topic is generally built on a bunch of assumptions that everyone in the discussion agrees on, if you question those assumptions then the whole conversation breaks down, complicates in a way that wont fit between commercial spots, and the one questioning the assumptions generally looks like a freak - like he doesnt play well with others. im thinking of all this because this morning on my way to get a cup of coffee i was listening to the skepticsguide podcast. good episode by the way. interviews with matt stone and christopher hitchens. but they were talking about this article. The short version is parents arent using medicine on their childs brain tumor and instead are putting their faith in a 'psychic healer'. they brought up the fact that there exists, in 41 of the fifty states, laws that make parents exempt from child endangerment prosecution if the treatment of the child is based on religious beliefs. they said that these are laws that need to be looked at and discussed in the public sphere. now, the reason i was prompted to write this was that the next thought that came to me was, 'now is not the time to have this discussion'. this country does not seem capable of a reasonable discussion about any difficult or nuanced topic right now. i think this is beginning to change but the change is happening slowly. we are rolling the big wheel over into a more tolerant time. it is my hope. i cite the recent 'obama-mania' is an example of peoples desire for a return to reasonable dialogue. i think we are tired of cartoon representations of complicated topics and he represents that. it is a long road to the white house but he does seem to be doing well right now as a representation of things reasonably considered. in contrast, i am personally concerned that i have gotten emotionally caught up in my outrage alot lately. it has made me enjoy too much my righteous indignation. when i make simple and broad claims about 'how things really are...' or 'how so-and-so really is...' then i am in dangerous spiritual territory. or put another way, i am becoming less effective. being 'right' feels good. its easy. not being sure but putting forth your best considered solution is much more difficult. uncomfortable. but it is my belief that nothing, nothing is ever black and white. all is a shade of grey. when i begin to look for the nuance is when i begin to approximate the truth.