[2013 revisited. This is an essay that sat around for ten years]. Listening to some people talk can be a serious challenge to serenity. One can actually peer through the gloom of their repetitions, overlook the jarring tones of some voices, look past their vulgarities, see through their technical language, salvage their broken sentences, ignore the many toes in their mouths, to see the play-acting that sometimes passes for more than a few of the 21st century’s profundities. Is it not dreadful though that both professional and non-professional people expect to be heard without delivering reliable information to the waiting audience? Listening can provide a sense of how deep a thought process is and, if you haven’t noticed, it can be a journey into incredible and dreadful contradictions.
A lot of people in the marketplace of ideas and social life find themselves either dancing to the popular or common tunes or playing the music. Whoever does not dance is not normal. If you start singing and dancing people assume that you aspire to be rich, powerful, and privileged, and oppressive. Upward mobility seems to have become the main criteria for evaluation. Is it not dreadful that the poor and the vulnerable are exploited by almost everyone with a sceptre?
Is it not even more dreadful that in the smaller audiences – the schools, the churches, the synagogues, the corporate boardrooms – that a whole lot of corrupt and perverted opinions pass for truth? There seems to be a collective blindness about the standards that have lasted for millennia. If the trend continues unchecked we can expect the worst to happen. The worst could very well be that the values we cherish become the trash we’ve always secretly dreaded.
Is it not dreadful that the news is dominated by bombs in ancient nations? No bombs, no headlines. You have to be in an ancient culture to make it, make disgusting attacks on children and women, deny human rights to those in your care, and have a steady stream of violent deaths. People say they appreciate the core values of the US and the UK, but amid the democratic and security arrangements by the twin-sisters of pride and folly the path to a nuclear winter in Asia is being paved with nuclear bombs in the hands of misogynist and xenophobic regimes.
Is it not dreadful that the US people are supposedly supporting India’s hungry, while India is pushing the limits of discrimination with its millennia of caste exclusions, in addition to building its nuclear weapon capabilities? Is it not dreadful that the only bombs in Canada are the mountains of verbal barbs in a cross-border tussle, which the southern neighbour sees as mole-hills. Competing with Aboriginals in North and South America is a losing proposition. There is no chance of modern religious or national upstarts (e.g. Islam, various Christian-isms, Canada, the United States, Pakistan) ever finding a productive role on the stage of being any more frighteningly dreadful.
“Shields up” against the customary stream of blah, blah, and blah. Dreadfully boring politics and religion and yes, scientific cooperation among deadly enemies. How deadly can the gods of science be? How alluring are the spoils of scientific exploration of the micro world!
How incredibly daft does one need to be to believe that sworn enemies, like Jews and Iranians, allies like Britons and Americans, can cooperate over the building of a scientific tool, but have failed to agree on where their people should live and worship.
Is it not dreadful that people all over the globe are playing the tolerance game while the beneficiaries outnumber the benefits. Is it not dreadful that a new nationalism and patriotism will take the place of magnanimity and hospitality? What we say today is just as dreadful as what we are about to become: animals that say nothing except mindless cliches and empty slogans.