December 15, 2004

Provocative thoughts from Bill Moyers

The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School recently presented its fourth annual Global Environment Citizen Award to Bill Moyers. The following is an excerpt from his acceptance speech.
"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts."
The crux of Moyer's speech is the danger presented to the environment by this kind of mindset. We are all familiar with the phenomenon. I found myself moved by his thoughts and observations. Some may think the level of alarm a bit over-the-top and I'm not sure I would disagree. But it weaves well with recent threads of thought that I suspect many might share.

Since the election much has been made of red vs. blue states. Like others, I appreciated the irony of the US of Canada and Jesusland map. But for the first time in my almost fifty years I considered the attendant thoughts seriously. At what point does one cash in and accept that a particularly strategy is not working? At what point do we say "they're never going to get it, so I'm going to stop beating my head against the wall"?

So the little questions that niggle now and then like "wouldn't it be easier to just make sure my kids and grandkids go to the right schools, and get a decent education?" in the light of Moyer's points commute seriously to deeper questions about heritage and citizenship and long-term goals ("wouldn't it be easier to start anew elsewhere?").

It has not been a motivating presence in my life, but until today I'd never conceived of myself as anything but an American. And until today it never seemed possible that the time could come when, despite exhortations to stand and fight from those like Bill Moyers, it would make sense to forestall diminishing returns. But today happened.

For this today at least, I don't like what I see. A rise of theocracy is the failure of (my vision of) America. The obvious conundrum to be unraveled is whether most Americans really are prepared to embrace ignorance, or that appearance is merely the effect of a vocal minority and canny politics.

I don't yet know whether this thing has sprung a leak. But although I plan to bail like mad up until it's clear to me the ship is lost, I don't intend, nor do I intend for my kids and their kids, to follow it down.

At which point the question then becomes; which way to steer the raft?


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