I find myself these days, less concerned about the polarization of the political landscape, and the mud-slinging about who’s more fascist – the left or the right; than I am about the internal decay of both political parties, the mass media, and the technocrats. The Achilles’ heel of a democracy is its intolerance of internal criticism and genuine debate, not people taking bizarre positions and frantically attempting to justify them. The hostile reaction to Tulsi Gabbard’s departure from the Democrat party, from within that party, and the continuing animosity toward Trump’s iconoclasm, from within the Republican party, is providing a dangerous momentum that could carry our society toward a dictatorship or a police state. As I’ve said before, I’m much less concerned about foreign adversaries attacking and enslaving us, than I am about the power structure imposing one idiotic schema after another, and encountering no questioning or pushback. We hear a lot about the need for “non-partisan” solutions to the mess we’re in, but I have yet to see our political process supporting, for example, a member of the House or Senate publicly challenging a position taken by their own party.
I did part of my “higher education” in the UK, at an English university. The most salient aspect of the experience was the opportunity to participate in, and observe, true debates. These were debates involving students, union workers, and politicians, at the highest levels; including the prime minister. I’m afraid that if I asked hundreds of my fellow citizens what they thought a debate was, very few would describe a forum without a facilitator, in which both participants would be forced to take a position diametrically opposed to the other, and fully develop a rationale and defense of it. No cheap shots; no ad hominem slurs, and no pointless stories instead of intellectually sound arguments. I learn almost nothing when decision-makers are interviewed by the media. And its not solely their fault. The people being interviewed want no part of a really probing question.
One of our strengths, as a culture, is our commitment to getting things done. We are doers, par excellence – that’s the good news and the bad news. What we need to do a lot more of is asking ourselves, in all areas of our lives, why are we doing, what we’re doing in the first place. Action without thought leads to abuse; thought without action leads to victimhood. This is particularly true when it comes to solving problems. Our thoughtless “solution” to the COVID pandemic is a testament to panic driven by thoughtlessness. We failed to remember that the solution to a current problem, always creates the next problem. And that the question we need to be asking ourselves is – do we want to solve that next problem? Many lives have been lost and ruined, by people who have the answer to your problem. When we’re facing challenges and problems, remind yourself of that sign at road construction sites – “Proceed With Caution.”