BANFF 2009: MENSA IN THE MOUNTAINS
Eight months from the Banff Regional Gathering (September 11 through 13, 2009) in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Combine world-class scenery, the low Canadian dollar and top minds: the result is a memorable experience. Check out our RG web site at www.mensabanffrg.com
for more info. Like music, the arts, math, science, politics, games? Add your requests to the mix and book early through Patricia (email@example.com) or volunteer to make this RG the best ever.
Obama 2009: Some people don’t get it. For them, the excitement is suspect. They’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes once too often. There are tricksters everywhere, they believe, and usually they sport a politician’s garb. Gimme the facts, they say. Wait till we see what the man does. The problems are intractable; they’re systemic or a matter of the military-industrial complex; solutions depend on other people’s goodwill and those people are out for their personal profit.
All true, of course, but beside the point. The Bush years, his father’s, Reagan’s, the whole sorry mess of Republicans, are branded with a pre-scientific and anti-rational slant that horrified those who can read and put two thoughts together. Consider it a throwback to 600 BCE and shortly after in the Greek world, when Thales and then the Pythagoreans took wing. The assumption was that custom governed behavior and tyrants arbitrarily dictated notions of right and wrong. Against this dominant stream fought a small group of converts to a new ideal: reason, abstraction, logic. For a short time, the new group prospered. Egypt and Mesopotamia were sources and Athens the spawning ground. We still derive most of our highest intellectual values from that era. And we sometimes come close to losing our way.
The Bush years were like wandering in the desert. We collectively held our breaths and prayed the nightmare would be over one day. The despair of those years – can’t you still feel it? – the hopeless, helpless agony of being governed by ignorance, seeing absolute power in the hands of the greedy and feckless.
Yes, the problems are real and Obama can’t solve them all or even most of them. But the excitement in the street is because we have a chance now. Don’t you remember the chief source of hope that has lighted humanity’s path through gloom and despondency? You know it. We make our own history. We aren’t governed by the all-powerful gods or forces beyond our control such as the ‘market’ or ‘hate’. There doesn’t have to be war in the middle east. There doesn’t have to be unemployment and cholera. We create these disasters. Yes, we do. And we refuse to stop. But as in around 600 BCE, there is a small group offering an alternative, and with any luck it can accomplish something that will permit the rest of us to draw breath again as rational beings.
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