Every day, I grow more aware of the limits of human reason, of just how impossible it is for our little, finite minds to grasp absolute truths (if, indeed, such absolutes exist at all). Still, since unlike other animals we have relatively few hard-wired instincts, our reason seems to be the best tool we possess for coping with reality.
The faithful of many "true" religions will here object that divine revelation either entirely supersedes or substantially supplements the inevitably tentative and mutable conclusions obtained by the exercise of reason alone.
The revelation of which divinity, though? As announced by which divinely-inspired prophet? As written down in which divinely-dictated holy book? Surely, the very proliferation of gods and religions argues against the actual existence of any super-natural, super-rational authority.
And besides, wouldn't such a wonderful supplement to human reason be available--as one of those few hard-wired instincts--to ALL human beings?
Well, who knows? I'm using rational thought to discuss something that (if it exists) transcends rational thought and cannot therefore be discussed using rational thought. Dead end.
So I return to the only tool I can be sure of, as tentative and as circumscribed as it is: my personal REASON. I understand that no one can understand all of reality--and that, moreover, I myself cannot understand a great deal of what many others can understand. Still, provided I do the best I can to inform myself and provided further that I accept the objective evidence afforded me by my senses and by scientifically provable truths, I must rely upon the revelations of my subjective thought processes, and upon these revelations only: because how in the world could I ever decide which of the "divine" revelations is more reliable than my personal thinking?
OK. That is the premise underlying (and, I hope, justifying) this blog entry: according to my personal thinking, much of what is going on in the world--and particularly in my own country--is absolutely contrary to reason, absolutely irrational, absolutely MAD.
As I recall, when Alice told the Cheshire Cat that she didn't want to "go among mad people," the Cat just purred sardonically, "Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here."
Well, perhaps we ARE all mad. But I wonder if some people aren't just a wee bit MORE mad than I am. For instance, I can make no sense whatsoever of the following notions/ ideas/ theories/ practices that I read about or witness on a nearly daily basis in the America of 2012 CE:
- Cutting government jobs will save the government money and will thus help create jobs;
- We can shrink our way to growth;
- The more guns everyone has, the safer everyone will be;
- Not talking about homosexuality in schools will make homosexuality go away;
- Evolution should not be taught because some people "oppose" it;
- The poor don't pay their fair share of taxes;
- Cutting taxes for the rich will create more jobs, because the rich will automatically want to spend their additional wealth on hiring poor people;
- America has to support Israel because Israel is "democratic."
- Democracy is always the best system of government for everybody;
- Banning same-sex marriage will save opposite-sex marriage;
- Banning same-sex marriage will save the Caucasian race;
- Overall health care costs will decline if we insure fewer people;
- Corporations are people and have the same rights as an individual citizen;
- Fertilized eggs are people and have the same rights as an individual citizen;
- American wars in the Middle East are defending American "freedom"
- The Constitution was divinely inspired;
- If we make their lives miserable, illegal immigrants will "self-deport";
- Socialism is evil and anti-American;
- Socialized medicine, indeed anything "socialized" is inferior, inefficient and dangerous;
- The left is conducting a "war" against Christianity;
- The world is going to end on December 21, 2012 because that's when the Mayan calendar ends;
- Religious freedom (especially that of the Catholic Church) is being threatened by Obama's health care policies;
- Too many people have the right to vote: limits need to be imposed;
- Social Security and Medicare and other social programs are misguided because in "helping" people, they encourage dependency instead of self-reliance;
- The War on Drugs is working;
- The war in Afghanistan is winnable (and necessary);
- Government spending on wars and defense should be increased; government spending on infrastructure, health, education, etc., should be decreased or eliminated;
- Government austerity is the solution to financial crises created by big banks;
- Homosexuality can (and should) be cured by prayer and aversion therapy;
- Christian fundamentalism is true; Islamic fundamentalism is false;
- Social Darwinism is a legitimate political, economic and ethical stance;
- Obama was born in Kenya;
- Illegal immigrants are stealing jobs from "real" Americans;
- Marriage has always (and everywhere) been between one man and one woman;
- The Civil War had nothing to do with slavery or racism;
- The only legitimate and efficacious form of birth control is abstinence.
You will notice that most of the foregoing ravings are favored especially by Republicans. That's because it appears (to me, anyway) that the majority of regular Republicans have been bitten by rabid demogogues within their ranks and have begun, almost literally, to foam at the mouth.
But some of my fellow Democrats are also spouting (and posting and tweeting) stuff that my common sense must repudiate. Here are a just a few examples of Democratic twaddle:
- All cultures and all civilizations are of equal merit and are equally "good";
- All people have a god-given right to get married, to whomever they choose;
- Public service unions, teachers' unions, etc., are primarily interested in serving the public;
- Capitalism is a corrupt system and cannot be made to work;
- It is not necessary for all Americans to be fluent in English; let people use whatever language they want;
- All is relative.
No, I'm quite sure that all is NOT relative, though my unaided (because there IS no aid) reason cannot equally illuminate and appraise the moral landscape of all portions of reality. Many gray areas persist, much ambiguity remains. Still, the insanity (and inanity) of the reasoning cited in the foregoing lists seems so egregious that I will, Cheshire-Cat-like, maintain that "we're all mad here"--at least until I'm proven (with genuine evidence) to be wrong.
Meanwhile, what do you make of this sign on a hotel wall in New York?