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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Another Mind that has closed in on Fixed Opinions

Our conversation was going well. We agreed about some quite radical thoughts, until I touched upon sacred ground. Then …

The conversation started with a condemnation of Russell Brand for encouraging young people not to vote as a way of protesting against current political systems. Neither of us accepted that this was the right way forward. We both agreed that we should be using our vote to protest, by giving our votes to (reasonable) parties that are closer to understanding that the current system is broken and needs reinventing.

I also suggested that people need to use their wallets and life style choices to start building a different kind of civilisation because the one we have now has no future. And there was full agreement about this. Modern free market capitalism, controlled as it is by large global corporations who seek domination and are driven by greed, is destroying us and our planet – agreed. We need to build a new system within the structure of the old, because we need something to replace the old – agreed.

Then I mentioned science, and the need for this too to change. Here I found the sacred ground, that subject which the mind does not want to discuss – it seems that everyone has such a topic, sometimes even more than one. And the reaction was just like that which I wrote about in a previous blog, when I encountered, via Twitter, an atheist whose mind had closed in on fixed opinions.

There is apparently nothing wrong with modern science, and given all the problems in the world, science is the last thing we should be questioning. No thoughts here that science may be partly to blame for these problems, that it has become the servant of a destructive global free market system, that it has highly questionable ethics, that scientists have dangerous and damaging delusion. And worse, there was no desire to explore the matter and to consider that science can easily go wrong, for science is but an invention of human mind, from which come all the woes of the world.

I could see now that the shutters were coming down and that the person, just like the atheist I wrote about, no longer wanted to continue with the conversation, so the person with whom I was speaking, made an excuse, and walked away.

This reaction I could have encountered with someone whose sacred ground was free market capitalism, or religion, or something else, for it seems there are countless ideologies and dogmas that clutter peoples’ minds, and lead them to having minds that are closed in on fixed opinions. The only difference would have been the subject matter that would trigger the walk away. And, while we might think that this is harmless, it is only so if the social, economic, and political circumstances are such that the dogma remains within the cage where it needs to be kept. The problem is that globally we are creating the social, economic, and political circumstances where cages are opening, and the wild beasts of dogma are beginning (once more) to bring hatred, misery and suffering into the world. Do not be deluded into thinking that science is not among these.

This we must stop, which is why there should be no sacred ground, why we should begin to address those aspects of our civilisation that are creating the conditions for its destruction. We must not allow people to declare subjects like science as being something not open for critique and questioning and reform. One can also say the same thing about free market capitalism and religion. And what if we cannot reform that which our modern world is founded upon? Would we not then end up discussing and improving nothing? And the metaphorical gates of hell that I refer to at the end of my book Encounter with a Wise Man would indeed be closed and we would be condemned to live in a world where no improvements would be possible.

My focus is on questioning science, engineering and technology, but also free market capitalism and religion. I do this, not because I want to see these things abandoned or because I am opposed to them, but because I want to improve all of them, for all are in need of such. And it we do not address these matters now, future generations will condemn us for not doing so, for they are the people that will have to live with the consequences.

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