~ A few days ago I was having coffee with a client of mine who was lamenting to me the loneliness he felt when it comes to stimulating conversations, “Kenneth, hardly anyone I know is interested in having conversations with me about intellectual subjects. Doesn’t anyone else care about these issues?” he said
If you are someone who is passionate about politics, the environment, religion, science, or other important philosophical issues, the Western World can in some ways feel like a lonely place. I relate to what my client said in that a great many people appear to be more interested in zoning out in front of the television or getting drunk than engaging in thoughtful dialogue.
And then, when you do finally get someone to sit down with you at coffee to have a conversation about life you can run into some of the cultural dilemmas that plague our society;
–) When people sit together face-to-face, the little damn cell phone seems to pop up like a plague, and it seems like people spend more time looking at their cell phone then they do looking at each other
–) People in the Western World trend towards argumentativeness. Rather than looking at issues with more open-ended questions and thoughts, people begin with very biased premises which lead them to being tremendously argumentative and combative
The Genesis story recounting the Tower of Babel tells a tale of a people who were entirely united in mind toward one purpose; building a modern marvel of technology that would reach to the heavens. The writer of the story infers the idea that the people had it in mind to be equal with God (or equal with the gods), or in other words, they had decided that they wanted to be the center of the universe themselves, they wanted to use technology to declare their preeminence the universe.
For the builders of the Tower, the tale ends with God intervening to save the people, “If I don’t act, there is nothing these people cannot do” and there is a concern that the people might end up destroying themselves because they never asked themselves the simple question, “Even though we have the ability to build this tower; should we built it?”
Life in the Western World is in many ways very similar to what it must have been like to have been a visitor to the ancient city of Babel. Imagine walking into town and seeing the entire mass of people united in one purpose, building a tower, but none of the people ever asking if that tower could end up bringing destruction to the entire human race!
Modern zombie movies often tell stories about scientists, who are obsessed with their ongoing cult of researching anything they are able to research; and it results in the creation of a disease that ends up destroying most of the human race.
While movies like 28 Days Later, or I am Legend, might be a bit fantastical regarding the bad side of scientists, when you look at the way the smartphone has dramatically changed the way we talk with each other, one starts to see the truth behind the Tower of Babel story.
–) Have cell phones helped society in many ways; sure! But at what cost?
–) Is text messaging convenient when you need your roommate to pick up a couple things at the grocery store; sure! But at what cost?
Text messaging is literally changing the words and manner in which young adults (and older adults) talk and connect. It doesn’t take a social scientist to recognize that modern dialogue and communication has begun to suffer thanks to technological inventions such as text messaging and cell phones.
Social networks have redefined our entire values. Gossiping on Facebook or being disrespectful to total strangers on Twitter has become acceptable forms of behavior. Stalking people on social networks has become a way of life for many people.
It seems like I fell asleep one day like Rip Van Winkle of old, and woke up in an entirely new society where everyone is engaged in building a massive tower that has the words DOOM FOR THE HUMAN RACE, printed in bold letters on the side of the building. It seems like hardly anyone is asking the questions, “should we keep using cell phones?”, “Maybe it’s time to stop using Internet social networks” and other simple observations.
Common sense as they say, seems a lot more uncommon these days.
I can’t help but believe that the argumentative and combative nature people are displaying in so many areas of life is rooted in the idea that these people refuse to accept the possibility that the premises they rest their entire worldview on; may not be good premises, or they might be entirely false premises.
You see, when people are building a tower, the last thing they want to hear is the suggestion that the tower might not be a good idea.
If you are the type of person that questions your premises on a regular basis, then you are not someone who believes “the debate is over”. Instead, you are someone who questions the “facts” that scientists, educators, and politicians proselytize.
Unfortunately, most people have bought into the Religion of Facts. Most people are proud, card carrying members of the Religion of Facts.
“But Kenneth, what is this Religion of Facts you’re talking about?” you ask
Well I’m glad you asked.
–) If you are the type of person that believes it is a FACT beyond discussion that the world was created in six literal 24 hour days, and there is no other possibility, then you are a member of the Religion of Facts.
–) If you are the type of person that believes Darwinian evolution is a proven fact beyond dispute and that there is no possibility the world came into existence in another manner then you are a member of the Religion of Facts.
–) If you are the type of person that believes there is no possibility that humans are contributing to major aspects of climate change and to even consider the possibility, then you are a member of the Religion of Facts.
–) If you are the type of person that believes global warming is fact beyond dispute, and that the majority of climatologists who do not believe fossil fuels are as serious a threat to the environment that the minority of climatologists claim, then you are a member of the Religion of Facts.
Do you see the common threads between what we popularly call the “Left” and the “Right”? Do you notice how each of these sides are obsessed with the Religion of Facts?
During the 20th century a number of prominent political scientists and philosophers began to realize that this “Facts” based worldview was actually contributing to a deconstruction in the way people think. Instead of education being a positive element of Western Society, the “facts” based worldview was causing people to think improperly.
Suddenly, by the dawn of the 21st century, men and women throughout the Western World were thinking more and more like children. The Religion of Facts has produced an entire society of anti-philosophers and anti-truth seekers.
Instead of creating a culture of adults who are truth seekers and beauty makers, we are an entire mass of people involved in erecting a hideous tower that looms over all of the world, and unless someone up there comes down and prevents us……we are at the precipice of bringing about our own doom.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society