Friday, October 28, 2011

Edge of Insanity

I spoke with a friend yesterday regarding our country's social and political structure. I must admit, I am left with some serious concerns.

My friend describes himself as a "social democrat." I had posed a question to him a year and a half ago regarding socialism... my question being a relatively simple one: What to do about human nature? Under a socialist system, human nature being what it is, there will always be more takers than workers. Thus, the system quickly will run out of either workers or freedom.

He went on a gentle rant last night about the inequities in our system. The disparity between the rich and the poor, the ever-widening gap... the fact that the rich are getting richer and the poor are unable to rise out of their station, etc. Are the rich getting super rich while the poor are not rising at all? Well, no... not really. The poor in this country have better lifestyles than poor people ever have. Is it true that there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor? I honestly don't know, and I really don't care. If one person is getting far richer than another, how does this hurt? Is it true that a poor person cannot work hard and pull themselves out of being poor? NO. Is it true that many poor people have a mentality that gets in their way? YES. But there are examples of people who did not hold onto that same mentality, and they managed to work their way out of poverty.

When he finished his rant, I pointed out that he still had not really answered my question regarding human nature. His answer? He doesn't want a perception that human nature is flawed to get in the way of change. Also, he doesn't believe that human nature IS inherently flawed. My friend is a humanities teacher -- I pointed to history and asked him to show me a time when we were able to clearly see that humans, at some point, operated without flaw. I then went on to say that one cannot rationally argue that human nature is not flawed. "Ah...," he says. "I am not a rationalist." I asked him, "So what does that make you - a wishful thinker?" He laughed and said that he prefers "dreamer."

My concern: There is a group of people who are wanting to change the entire social and political structure of the world. These people appear to wish to deny reality in order to hold on to their dream of a utopian society. To eschew rationalism in favor of dreaming is the height of foolishness. To see reality and refuse to admit it's real because it doesn't fit with what you would like to be real is folly.

An even greater concern is his assertion that the fix to the world's problems is "literacy." He specified that he meant real literacy -- not just the ability to read and write, but the ability to digest and think about information, drawing conclusions and coming up with real results. Yes, yes, YES! But... but... how can one claim to be literate in such a fashion if one is rejecting rationalism? Can a person be a literate thinker while living in a dream reality that denies the existence of what is really real? It seems to me the person who believes such a thing is possible is tip-toeing to the edge of insanity.

The stakes get higher and higher all the time.

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