By John Taylor; 2010 Aug 08, Kamal 07, 167 BE
A rewrite of Chapter Three of the first section of People Without Borders
When my children were young one of their favorite toys was a yellow plastic ball with a fluffy "tail" connected to it. They called it their "raccoon." When they placed it on a smooth surface and flipped a switch, it vibrated and wobbled erratically, to their unending delight and the consternation of our cat. It was impossible to say which way it would roll next. After a while I deduced that its strange unstable motion came about because inside a motor was gyrating around an off-center counterweight. When I opened it up it had an ordinary electric motor pushing its batteries, which were the counterweight.
That, it seems to me, is a perfect metaphor for how our inner world is rolling right now. Our center of balance and our motive force are out of whack, working hard against one another in a crazy spin. Our education is unbalanced. Like the "raccoon" we want our thoughts and action to roll straight but our design makes us wobble. Our schooling trains us as specialists, very sophisticated in some ways but clueless in others. Is it any surprise that our lives become unbalanced? We end up as wobbly toys whose gyres and gimbles, in Hamlet's words, "make the unskilful laugh ... but make the judicious grieve."
The Source of the Wobble
The century after John Amos Comenius' death saw a divorce among science, religion and politics. As an educator, a spiritual leader and peace negotiator, he had striven all his life to prevent this from happening. If Comenius had his way, the 18th Century, which arrogantly called itself the Enlightenment, would have included religion as one of the three main lights of the human spirit. Instead, it rejected religion out of hand. This was not without reason, of course. By and large, most religious leaders themselves rejected liberalism and embraced exclusion. They gladly chose disputation and rivalry among themselves over the good of all.
After this sad parting of the ways, human potential was stunted and our worldview permanently put out of whack. Secularism was born as educated elites parted ways from the rest of humanity. The fact that religious leaders were too narrow-minded to participate did not change the fact that the preponderating majority of the human race believe in God. They did in the 17th Century and they do today. This made liberalism, belief in the importance of freedom, the exclusive domain of a small number of non-believers, in spite of the glaring fact that the very idea of liberation comes from the exodus of Moses and a crucified poor man who declared that "the truth shall set you free."
Our True Center of Gravity
Crazily enough, this eccentricism made the liberal agenda, whose proudest offspring is democratic government, inherently anti-democratic. With the religious consensus of opinion banished from the public agenda, most of humankind are marginalized agreement upon first principles is impossible. All that remain to set the agenda are a cynical elite whose only faith is in absolute power based on ever more sophisticated divide and rule tactics.
The result is that established democracies offer limited freedom to a few and accept gross inequality. On a world level, these democracies have become the most vehement and violent opponents of freedom in the world. To point only to the most recent example, a US military spokesman this week issued an open threat to Wikileaks, which exposed its campaign of assassination in Afghanistan. As early as Immanuel Kant the contradiction at the heart of the secular liberal democratic agenda was exposed,
"Of the three forms of the state, that of democracy is, properly speaking, necessarily a despotism, because it establishes an executive power in which "all" decide for or even against one who does not agree; that is, "all," who are not quite all, decide, and this is a contradiction of the general will with itself and with freedom." (Kant, Sketch of Perpetual Peace)
Only an unknowable, loving God who aims to teach us the way can smooth out these contradictions and allow the ball to roll straight to a universally acceptable object. In Hamlet's words, his censure is most judicious and "must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others." The fact that most humans accept that God's will comes first would make governance based upon that more democratic than any system now calling itself a democracy.